Coming up roses

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The Daily Iowan

Iowa lineman Brant Gressel and fullback Drake Kulick hold up a W flag after the Iowa-Nebraska game at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 28-20, to finish off a perfect regular season. (The Daily Iowan/ John Theulen)

For the sixth time in school history and the first time since 1991, the No. 5 Iowa football team will play in the 102nd Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016, at 4:10 on ESPN.

After falling in the Big Ten Championship to Michigan State and missing out on a playoff spot, the Hawkeyes will face off against Pac-12 Champion No. 6 Stanford.

“We’re just absolutely thrilled to get the news today about being invited to the Rose Bowl,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You think about the Rose Bowl, you think about tradition, you always play a tremendous opponent. That certainly will be the case this year.”

Even before the Hawks stepped on to the field against the Spartans on Saturday evening, they were all but ensured a spot in one of the New Year’s Six Bowls. However, with Ohio State ranked just two spots behind them in the Dec. 1 rankings, there was potential for the Buckeyes to jump Iowa if it lost the Big Ten Championship.

Fortunately for Iowa, that didn’t happen. Stanford, which was ranked a spot behind Ohio State in the Dec. 1 rankings, jumped over the Buckeyes this week after winning the Pac-12 Championship over No. 25 USC.

Iowa dropped a spot, and Michigan State jumped two places to No. 3 in week’s College Football Playoff poll, leaving the Hawkeyes as the highest-ranked Big Ten team not in the playoff.

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“When they announced it, I was sleeping; we got like three hours of sleep last night,” Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “I woke up to a bunch of texts that said ‘Rose Bowl,’ and it was exciting, because we really weren’t sure what was going to happen.”

Iowa is 2-3 all-time in the Rose Bowl, with its last win coming in 1959 against California. It will also mark the third time Ferentz has coached in the Rose Bowl, though his first as a head coach.

“It’s exciting. It’s such a prestigious bowl, and it should be a lot of fun. Coach Ferentz was excited about it,” injured defensive lineman Drew Ott said. “He was there 30 years ago, so he’s excited to get back. He must have had a good time there.”

Ferentz was an assistant at Iowa from 1981-1989, which included Rose Bowls in 1982 and 1986. The Hawkeyes lost both of those games, but Ferentz has found quite a bit of success in postseason games.

Including this season, the Hawkeyes will have competed in a bowl 12 of the last 15 seasons. Ferentz is 6-5 in those games.

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