The saying in the movie industry is that sequels are almost never better than the original. I wouldn’t say this one is as good as the original, but for a follow-up, it ranks somewhere between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Back to the Future II.
Following Iowa’s win over Penn State in 2008, the Hawkeyes became appointment television for me. I watched them eek out a win over Purdue, rout Minnesota in the Metrodome finale, and dominate South Carolina from start to finish in the 2009 Outback Bowl. Big things appeared to be on the way in 2009, even without star running back Shonn Greene.
2009 would start out ominously for the Hawkeyes, barely squeezing by in-state foe and FCS power Northern Iowa in week one, all thanks to two blocked field goals to end the game (Still one of the most improbable finishes I have ever seen).
It gave rise to questions whether or not this Iowa team was actually going to be as good as once thought going into the season. Iowa would re-establish themselves however, with two impressive wins over eventual bowl teams in rival Iowa State and Arizona leading up to a huge rematch in Happy Valley with a top-5 rated Penn State squad.
I remember watching College Gameday that morning as it was in Happy Valley for the game. The game theme was the vaunted “Whiteout” at Beaver Stadium, perhaps the toughest atmosphere anywhere in college football.
Many gave Iowa little chance against the mighty Nittany Lions, much like last year. After Penn State’s first offensive play, it looked warranted: a 79-yard touchdown pass from Darryl Clark to Chaz Powell.
I didn’t see the first half of this football game as I was in Ames watching Iowa State play Army that night (friends had tickets). However we left when it was clear the Cyclones were going to beat the Black Knights and made it in home in time for the second half.
I remember not long after I had sat down was when one of the most momentous plays in the Kirk Ferentz era occurred. It was the play that introduced the college football world to Mr. Adrian Clayborn.
That was the turning point of not only the game, I believe it was the turning point of Iowa’s whole season. They survived UNI and beat up on good, but not great Iowa State and Arizona teams. But, after that blocked punt, Iowa beat up the Nittany Lions for the remainder of the fourth quarter, winning the ballgame by a final of 21-10.
But that blocked punt by Adrian Clayborn did more for me than just giving Iowa the lead and the eventual win. His blocked punt showed me that big guys can do awesome things too.
It was no secret that I was a chubby, fat kid in my youth, as I alluded to it in my previous article. But when Clayborn not only blocked the punt, but picked it up and ran it back for a touchdown, it showed me that a big kid like me could do the same too.
And I did, my sophomore year of high school, batting a pass to myself and running it back 45 yards for a touchdown.
By far and away the peak of my individual athletic career (Thank god for Hudl), and it was partly inspired by what Adrian Clayborn did that rainy, dreary night on September 26, 2009 in Happy Valley.