Iowa and Stanford, two teams that barely missed out on the College Football Playoff, landed in the Rose Bowl, a pretty great place to forget your sorrows.
The Hawkeyes (12-1, No. 5 CFP) will face the Cardinal (11-2, No. 6 CFP) on Jan. 1, game officials announced Sunday.
Iowa and Stanford finished in the final two rankings spots outside the four-team playoff, yet they earned coveted spots in the traditional year-end matchup between the Big Ten and Pac-12 powers.
"If this is the consolation prize, what a deal it is for both of us," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Even though the Hawkeyes lost their unbeaten season and the Big Ten title game to Michigan State on a late touchdown Saturday night, they still earned their first trip to Pasadena since Jan. 1, 1991. Ferentz will cap his 17th season at Iowa with his first Rose Bowl appearance as a head coach.
"This news is good medicine, I think, for all of us, just to ease the tough outcome," said Ferentz, the offensive line coach on two Rose Bowl teams at Iowa in the 1980s.
While the Hawkeyes hadn't made the Rose Bowl in a generation, Pasadena has become a second home for Stanford and coach David Shaw.
The Cardinal earned their third Rose Bowl berth in four years by beating Southern California 41-22 in the Pac-12 title game on Saturday night. Stanford beat Wisconsin three years ago to earn its first Rose Bowl victory since the 1971 season but lost to Michigan State two years ago.
"We too are excited about going back to Pasadena," Shaw said. "The Rose Bowl people have been phenomenal the times that we've gone. That's a rare occurrence nowadays, but we're looking forward to the week."
A bowl formality
Wisconsin (9-3) will play USC (8-5) in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego. It will be the Badgers' 14th consecutive bowl appearance, the longest active streak in the Big Ten and tied for the sixth-longest streak in the country.
The Trojans have won five of their last eight games since Clay Helton was named interim head coach on Oct. 12. The school removed the interim tag last week.
And then there's …
Georgia State. The Panthers won only two games the past three seasons. They never had beaten an FBS team until this year. Before 2010, they didn't even have a football program.
Now, after closing with a four-game winning streak, Georgia State (6-6) will face San Jose State in the Dec. 19 Cure Bowl in Orlando.
"We've come a long way in a very short period of time," coach Trent Miles said Sunday, joining his team for a bowl-selection party.
A 23-21 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette left the Panthers 2-6. They haven't lost since, knocking off Texas State, South Alabama, Troy and Georgia Southern to claim the Sun Belt's final bowl spot.
"We really didn't change anything," Miles said. "We just stuck with what we do. We knew that what we were doing was the right thing. And our kids believed."