Continuing our apparent Wednesday series of "Adorable Events We Almost Cannot Believe Exist," the second annual Big Ten Awards show kicks off tonight. There's a great deal of wealth-spreading involved, with swimmers nominated and everything. (Sadly, there is no broadcasting category, meaning our ceremony bestowing the Pam Ward Lifetime Achievement Medal For Crapulent Broadcasting on Pam Ward for the fourth consecutive year will once again take place in the back beer garden of the pub just down the street.)
While we've certainly got our favorites (Evan Turner for Breakout Bambi-Eyed Performer!), the most interesting nominee has to be the 2009 Outback Bowl's nod for Game of the Year, a game Northwestern actually lost, 38-35 in overtime. To remind why this is an occasion to be celebrated, even in defeat, we need only look back at Mike Kafka putting on a one-man, ill-fated fireworks show:
We have no rooting interest in either team, but this was an apoplexy-inducing four hours no matter your alma mater. A 532-yard passing performance from Kafka means he outgained Auburn's entire team by over 100 yards, by himself. That kind of swashbuckling deserves a tip of the ostrich-plumed hat, regardless of the scoreboard. (And yes, he threw five interceptions in the process. Sometimes art is painful.) Four touchdowns were scored in the final eleven minutes of play, two of them by Northwestern inside the five-minute mark. Let this game stand forever as a testament to the fascinating dangers of the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT, on the Big Ten Network to find out whether the world loves this game like it deserves to be loved.
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Matt Hinton is on vacation this week. Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.