Big Ten Network's 2009-10 Game of the Year: Iowa vs. Ohio State

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Big Ten Network's 2009-10 Game of the Year: Iowa vs. Ohio State
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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The Big Ten Network recently recognized the best of Big Ten sports in 2009-10 with their third annual Big Ten Network Awards.

Among the honors was the award for the 2009-10 Game of the Year. For Big Ten fans around the country, the winner of the award should come as no big surprise.

The network offers approximately 35-40 college football games each year, but in 2009 one game in particular stood out above the rest.

The No. 15 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes traveled to Columbus on November 21, 2009 to face the No. 10 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

It was the 62nd meeting between the Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes, a game that would decide 2009's Big Ten Championship. The match-up would also decide who made a trip to the 2010 Rose Bowl.

The battle for the conference title was everything fans thought it would be.

Iowa was a 17-point underdog heading into the game, due to in-large part to starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi being unable to play due to injury.  The rest of the Hawkeyes stepped up their effort to compensate.

Heading into the fourth quarter of the game, the Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in under two minutes to take a comfortable lead.

With red-shirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg making his first-ever career start, Iowa overcame a 24-10 deficit with just over 11 minutes left in the game to tie things up and send it into overtime. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos helped the cause with a 99 yard kick-off return for touchdown, the fourth-longest return in Iowa history.

In overtime, one-time professional soccer player Devin Barclay sent the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl with his 39-yard field goal to end the game.  

“We had so much confidence in Devin that we were going backward to make his kick longer,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel joked after the game.

The kick assured Ohio State at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten title. It also secured their first Rose Bowl trip in 13 years.

"None of our kids have gone to the Rose Bowl. I haven't been there in 25 years when I was an assistant coach in the 1985 Rose Bowl,'' coach Tressel reminded. "There's nothing like it. It's a great feeling."

"We didn’t quite do it,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz explained after the game. "This was a heck of a challenge."

Winning the Big Ten Network's Game of the Year honors likely won't help heal the pain Ferentz felt from another loss to the Tressel and the Buckeyes. It does give fans a little something extra to be proud about, though. If the Hawkeyes had to lose out on a championship, at least they made it the best game of the year.

Mark your calendars for the rematch on November 20, 2010.

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