Final: Stanford 45, Iowa 16

Key play: 75-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey

You knew it was going to be a long day for the Hawkeyes when Kevin Hogan hit a wide open Christian McCaffrey for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. That set the tone for Stanford. That tone was complete and total domination. Stanford became the first team in Rose Bowl history to score 21 points in the first quarter. If the Cardinal had gone three-and-out on the opening drive and got the pro-Hawkeye crowd into it, who knows how that first quarter plays out. But the Cardinal hit Iowa right in the mouth and put the Hawkeyes in unfamiliar territory.

Telling stat: McCaffrey had 200 all-purpose yards 16 minutes in

It was arguably one of the greatest individual starts to a game in college football history. The guy did it in the passing game, the running game and on special teams. There was nobody on the field that could keep up with him. Fitting it was that McCaffrey, who broke the single-season record for all-purpose yards in a season, did it all before Iowa knew what hit them. By night’s end, McCaffrey had the Rose Bowl record for all-purpose yards with 361. He even became the first player in Rose Bowl history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the game. Iowa obviously was shell-shocked from the start, but McCaffrey would’ve done that to a whole lot of teams. The Hawkeyes were just the unfortunate victims.

Worth noting:

-Iowa held to 160 total yards

It was a grind all night for the Hawkeyes, with the exception of the garbage time scores. The running game and the passing game were both stuck in neutral against a Stanford defense the came ready to play. Maybe the Cardinal was tired of hearing about how soft Pac-12 defenses were. Maybe they were frustrated that they weren’t in the College Football Playoff. Maybe they were just really good. It was unusual to see Iowa struggle running the ball like that. LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley and Jordan Canzeri were all bottled up for most of the night. The biggest struggle for Iowa was the pressure Stanford put on C.J. Beathard. He was sacked a season-high eight times and his mobility was limited all night. For Iowa to be successful offensively, Beathard has to be able to operate outside of the pocket. That certainly wasn’t the case on Friday.

-Wadley looked like worthy Canzeri replacement

I know, I know. The positives were few and far between. But one of them was the fact that Wadley looked like a guy that could definitely be a pass-catching tailback in 2016. Iowa will lose a key part of the offense in Canzeri, and Daniels will likely return to take the feature back role. But Kirk Ferentz showed that he wants to use the running back in more passing downs and get away from the predictable formations. Against a good defense, Wadley looked capable in the limited open space he got on his three catches. If absolutely nothing else, we got a glimpse of Iowa’s future bread-and-butter backfield attack.

What it means: Two-game losing streak won’t reflect the season that was for Iowa

It’s unfortunate for Iowa that 2015 had to come to an end like that. On so many levels, it was a historic season. The program’s first Rose Bowl since 1991 was the result of its first 12-win season in school history. Obviously that will put a bad taste in the mouths of Iowa fans because of the fashion in which the Hawkeyes lost. But it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Ferentz did something with this program that hasn’t been in its storied history. This season didn’t have the same storybook ending that the 2009 Orange Bowl did, but it needs to be remembered in similar fashion. Blowout aside, it was an Iowa team for the ages.