Big Ten Network to air classic football contests

July 25, 2007

CHICAGO — For the University of Iowa, it could be the catch, the kick, or Cook.

The Big Ten Network will televise two classic football games each week throughout the 2007 football season. “The Big Ten’s Greatest Games” will highlight some of the best moments in the rich histories of all 11 Big Ten football programs.

Even though the network has not finalized its featured games involving the Hawkeyes, there is certainly no shortage of potential candidates. How about Warren Holloway’s improbable 56-yard game-winning touchdown reception on Jan. 1, 2005 against LSU in the Capitol One Bowl? Maybe kicker Rob Houghtlin’s field goal that gave No. 1 Iowa a 12-10 win over No. 2 Michigan on Oct. 19, 1985? Then again, it could be the game on Nov. 14, 1987 when Marv Cook bulled his way into the end zone giving Iowa a 29-27 victory at Ohio State.

They are epic sports battles that are etched in hearts and minds of Big Ten fans across the nation. They are unforgettable moments that stir passion and pride. They are echoes of both triumphant victories and devastating defeats. Throughout the fall, college football fans will have the opportunity to relive 24 of those match-ups on the Big Ten Network series, “The Big Ten’s Greatest Games.”

Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said the “Greatest Games” series honors the legacy of the conference’s recent past, and will be a consistent presence year-round.

“We know that these are the games that our fans talk about most, and we know they will love to see them time and again,” Silverman said.

The series premieres Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. (Iowa time), with the 2006 Ohio State-Michigan “Game of the Century,” before settling into its regular time slot with back-to-back episodes on Tuesday nights beginning at 5 p.m.

Last year’s memorable showdown between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan was termed the “Game of the Century.” An Ohio Stadium record crowd of 105,708 saw the first-ever No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up in this storied rivalry. The game was played a day after legendary former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler passed away and the teams couldn’t have honored his memory with a better game. Ohio State quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith threw for a career-high four touchdowns and a season-high 316 yards to propel the Buckeyes to a 42-39 win. The victory sealed a Big Ten championship for Ohio State and a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

“The Big Ten’s Greatest Games” then flashes back to 1999 for Minnesota’s upset victory in Happy Valley. An undefeated Penn State team appeared to be in the driver’s seat for a Big Ten title and perhaps its third national championship. But one Minnesota miracle dashed those dreams. Trailing by two with less than 90 seconds to go, the Gophers faced 4th-and-16 at the Penn State 40-yard line. A last gasp pass from Gopher quarterback Billy Cockerham tipped off the hands of receiver Ron Johnson and into the hands of the diving Arland Bruce for a first down. The amazing play put the Gophers in range for kicker Dan Nystrom, who nailed a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Minnesota a 24-23 victory.

“The Big Ten’s Greatest Games” continues throughout the fall with many memorable match-ups, including the 2004 contest between No. 5 Purdue and No. 10 Wisconsin. The Boilermakers were clinging to 17-14 lead with 2:36 to play when Wisconsin’s Scott Starks and Robert Brooks jarred the ball free from Purdue’s Heisman hopeful, quarterback Kyle Orton. Starks returned the fumble 40 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Orton led the Boilermakers into field goal range on a frantic 16-play drive inside the final two minutes. But a 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. The Badger victory spoiled Homecoming at Purdue and the Boilermakers’ perfect record.

Another one of “The Big Ten’s Greatest Games” happened on Sept. 23, 2000 in East Lansing, Mich., where Michigan State defeated Notre Dame for the fourth straight time thanks to some late drama. The Spartans built a 20-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but with eight minutes to go the Irish rallied to take a 21-20 edge. Michigan State’s freshman quarterback Jeff Smoker, making just his second career start, stepped in. With just 1:48 remaining, Smoker connected with Herb Haygood for a 68-yard touchdown pass, lifting the No. 23 Spartans over the No. 16 Irish, 27-21.

An additional 20 classic games will be televised, and those games will be released as the season progresses.

The official launch of the Big Ten Network comes Aug. 30, two days before the kick off of the 2007 Big Ten college football season. Big Ten Tonight, a nightly studio show hosted by Dave Revsine, will preview the upcoming season and closely examine all of the weekend’s conference teams in action. The network will televise more live events in HD than any other new network in television history. The network recently announced a commitment to gender equality by 2010, when all Big Ten Network-controlled television, Internet and mobile media will provide equal men’s and women’s athletic coverage.

Click HERE for more information about the Big Ten Network.