Kenny Greer / The Lantern
It is called the “Granddaddy of Them All,” and for good reason.
It is one of, if not the most, heralded games in the Bowl Championship series.
The Tournament of Roses began in 1890 as a celebration of life in Pasadena, Calif. In 1902, the football game was added to the celebration. Nicknamed the Rose Bowl in 1923, it has amounted to much more than a celebratory parade.
The Buckeyes have not made the trip to Pasadena since their 1997 victory over Arizona State, 20-17.
A trip to the Rose Bowl is something the Buckeyes have only dreamt of for the past 12 years, until now.
Tensions ran high when the Buckeyes failed to defeat Iowa in regulation. Players and fans knew the victory would seal their fate and decide their chance for the Rose Bowl.
“There was no need for any inspiration — the Big Ten championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl provided plenty of motivation,” senior linebacker Austin Spitler said.
The whole team felt junior kicker Devin Barclay’s nerves as he attempted the game-deciding field goal in overtime.
“I was nervous, but I had Aaron [Pettrey] there in my ear. He was saying, ‘You can do this,'” Barclay said.
However, the smell of roses quickly penetrated The Horseshoe when Barclay’s 39-yard field goal soared through the posts.
“It was unbelievable,” Barclay said. He was speechless.
The emotion in the stadium following the win over the Hawkeyes was palpable. It took just seconds for the reality to sink in.
Fans stormed the field to surround their team, which had just clinched its fifth-consecutive Big Ten Championship and 34th overall. The Buckeyes are going to Pasadena.
“It’s a blessing,” senior Doug Worthington said. “It feels spectacular. I mean our hopes before were always to be at the BCS Bowl. We talked as captains and we needed to do the same thing.”
The Buckeyes are no strangers to BCS bowl games, nor are they unfamiliar with what it takes to get there. The Buckeyes have 46 more days of hard work ahead before they take to the field of the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Rose Bowl has hosted 18 Heisman Trophy winners, 28 National Championships and 190 All-Americans.
Most notably, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame has inducted 95 legendary college players.
Pete Johnson, 2007 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductee, is the most recent Ohio State alum to receive the honor. Johnson played alongside Heisman trophy winner and fellow Hall of Famer Archie Griffin. He was the starting fullback at Ohio State from 1973-1976, when he set both single season records with 25 touchdowns and 156 points.
Since its creation in 1989, the Buckeyes have had five players honored in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
The Rose Bowl showcases the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions, the oldest postseason bowl game agreement in NCAA football. It hosted the BCS National Championship series in 2002, 2006, and will host the game in 2010.
What does winning the Rose Bowl mean? It means a 16-pound sterling silver Leishman Trophy; it means bragging rights; but most importantly, it means making history and becoming legends.
“It will be a lasting legacy. We’re the winningest [Ohio State] team and no other team has done that,” senior defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson said.
As Buckeye Nation revels in the victory and the ticket to Pasadena, the team is focused on one more thing: beating Michigan.
“Right now we have to take care of Michigan and when we get to the Rose Bowl we have to win,” senior tight end Jake Ballard said.
Rose Bowl bound and ready to play in one of the biggest college rivalry games, the Buckeyes are ready to take on anything.