Payne: Roses the best medicine

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Joshua Housing

Iowa runs out for the second half of the Big Ten Championship against Michigan State in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 16-13. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)

Danny Payne, [email protected]


Kirk Ferentz wouldn’t use the word “consolation” when describing his team’s upcoming trip to the Rose Bowl. That word implies pity — it gives a connotation that a team doesn’t deserve what it gets. That doesn’t fit his Hawkeyes.

Rather, he opted to call No. 5 Iowa’s berth in the Granddaddy of Them All the right “medicine” for his team.

Although the Rose Bowl isn’t what the Hawks set out to do this year, although they did not achieve their goal of a Big Ten Championship or a College Football Playoff title, a win in the Rose Bowl would be the doctor’s backup prescription.

Yes, Ferentz used the term “medicine” at a Sunday press conference in regards to the immediate pain of 12-1 Iowa’s 16-13 loss to 12-1 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 5. But a win on New Year’s Day would be the final step to curing a program that was on the verge of falling into critical condition just three short months ago.

A win in the Rose Bowl would erase any shred of doubt still surrounding this program’s resurrection. It would solidify the well-deserved respect the Hawkeyes gained over the weekend despite a loss to the Spartans. Had Iowa’s New Year’s plans involved any city not named Pasadena, California, it would have been crippling.

Playing in Glendale, Arizona, for the Fiesta Bowl or another New Year’s Six contest wouldn’t be enough to do this season justice.

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No, Iowa had to play on college football’s best stage, on that lush green grass in that nearly 10-decade old stadium built in the shadows of the San Gabriel Mountains.

And it will. All that’s left to do is win.

Sixth-ranked Stanford is a dangerous team, led by Heisman Trophy candidate and do-everything player Christian McCaffery. The Hawkeye defense will have a chance to avenge Spartan LJ Scott’s second-effort at the goal line that knocked away the team’s hopes of a Big Ten or national title. It will have a chance to shut down a potent rushing attack better than the one that wore it down during the second half in Indianapolis.

It won’t be easy — McCaffery is a better rusher than Scott or any other back the Spartans feature, no doubt. The Hawkeyes will face the most dynamic player they’ve seen all year in Pasadena. But wouldn’t slowing down a potential Heisman finalist in McCaffery make this medicine work that much better?

Wouldn’t sending this great senior class off with Iowa’s first Rose Bowl victory since 1959 be the best-remaining ending to what has been as close to a perfect season as Iowa has had in the modern era?

Wouldn’t Kirk Ferentz accepting a trophy on a confetti-filled stage in the California evening be an image engrained in Hawkeye fans’ brains for the rest of time?

It would, and the Hawkeyes have put themselves in a position to do that and more.

There’s one last tablespoon of medicine left in the bottle.

New Year’s Day is the perfect time to gulp it down.

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