Devin Barclay, a 26-year-old former pro soccer player, kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime to give No. 10 Ohio State a 27-24 victory Saturday over No. 15 Iowa and send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 13 years.
"None of our kids have gone to the Rose Bowl. I haven't been there in 25 years [since] I was an assistant coach in the 1985 Rose Bowl," coach Jim Tressel said. "There's nothing like it. It's a great feeling."
The Buckeyes (9-2, 6-1) clinched at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten title and the conference's automatic BCS bid.
"It means everything to us," linebacker Austin Spitler said. "Senior day, we're going to remember this for the rest of our lives. This is a special moment."
Iowa (9-2, 5-2), which overcame a 24-10 deficit with just over 11 minutes left, lost its second in a row. Redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg was solid for the Hawkeyes in his first college start. But filling in for the injured Ricky Stanzi — who hurt his ankle in last week's upset loss to Northwestern — Vandenberg was intercepted three times, the final time to end Iowa's only possession in overtime.
Brandon Saine rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns and Dan Herron added another score for the Buckeyes.
Iowa started overtime with an incompletion. Then freshman Adam Robinson was thrown for a 6-yard loss by Spitler, and Doug Worthington sacked Vandenberg for a 10-yard loss. Out of field goal range on fourth-and-26, Vandenberg then lofted a long pass into the end zone that was picked off by Anderson Russell.
The Buckeyes handled the ball with extra care — just the way Tressel wanted. Three runs up the middle netted two yards. On came Barclay, the Buckeyes' front-line kicker since taking over after starter Aaron Pettrey injured a knee three games ago.
"We had so much confidence in Devin that we were going backwards to make his kick longer," Tressel cracked.
Still, Tressel admitted, he was on the headphones as Barclay made contact with the ball, telling the offensive coaches in the press box to have a play ready for the next possession in overtime in case Barclay missed.
Instead, his kick split the uprights, touching off a wild scene as thousands rushed the field.
"It's unbelievable. I'm speechless," said Barclay, a former Major League Soccer player who walked on for the Buckeyes. "The fourth quarter definitely made it interesting. I'm just glad we came out on top — and now we're going to the Rose Bowl."
A cadre of state police surrounded the goal posts, preventing anyone from tearing them down. But that didn't prevent the frenzied crowd from mobbing the Buckeyes players, snapping pictures and joining the team in singing the alma mater.
The Buckeyes haven't been to Pasadena since the 1996 team finished No. 2 in the nation, scoring in the final minute to beat Arizona State 20-17 in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State does not want to duplicate one aspect of that season, however — those Buckeyes were perfect all year until losing 13-9 to Michigan in the regular-season finale. Ohio State plays at its archrival next Saturday.
Iowa, a 17-point underdog, overcame several dropped passes and other mistakes to tie it at 10 on Vandenberg's 9-yard slant pass to Marvin McNutt midway through the third period.
Coach Kirk Ferentz told his team earlier this week that it needed to play a perfect game to win.
"We didn't quite do it," he said. "Maybe if we had, we might have won. This was a heck of a challenge."
The Buckeyes counter-punched, putting together a 79-yard drive. Terrelle Pryor — who completed 14 of 17 passes for 93 yards and ran for 29 more yards — engineered a march that resulted in Herron taking a direct snap and sweeping right, stiff-arming Brett Greenwood and then turning the corner for the go-ahead score with 13:03 left.
Vandenberg then tossed his second interception, picked off by Ross Homan. On the first play from the Iowa 49, Saine took the ball on a quick-hitter off left tackle and outraced everyone for a 24-10 lead.
The 14-point margin was short-lived, however. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos dropped the ensuing kickoff, picked it up, shed a tackle and raced to the right sideline where he sidestepped another potential tackler before sprinting 99 yards for the fourth-longest return in Iowa history.
Barclay missed a 47-yard field goal that might have salted it away, and Vandenberg made several big plays on the next drive — after Brian Rolle's interception return for a touchdown was wiped out by an Ohio State offside penalty.
Vandenberg, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 233 yards and two scores, then threw a pass directly to two Buckeyes but it popped up in the air and tight end Tony Moeaki quickly grabbed it for a 16-yard pickup.
Vandenberg flipped a high pass into the end zone where McNutt pulled it in with two hands over defender Chimdi Chekwa to tie it at 24.
"Man, this was great," Ohio State offensive lineman Jim Cordle said. "I'm bruised. I'm battered. But we're victorious, man. We did it."
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