Well, another bowl season has come and gone for the Big Ten and although the conference was just a few plays away from having a good showing, the league is coming to grips with the fact that it will have to spend the next eight months or so digesting another sub-par performance in the postseason.
This year the seven Big Ten teams involved in bowl games went a combined 2-5. Does that kind of record give you Big Ten fans indigestion? It should, especially if you take a look at the three highest profile postseason games the conference was involved in. Big Ten teams were shutout in those contests, losing the Rose, Capital One and Outback bowls.
Those three bowls get the first three picks in the Big Ten bowl pecking order. This year that meant Big Ten Championship Game winner Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl. Nebraska, the runner up in the conference title tilt, was in the Capital One Bowl, and Michigan, which finished second in the Legends Division behind Nebraska, was in the Outback Bowl.
Thanks to Wisconsin’s six-point loss to Stanford, Pasadena is again a destination of horrors for Big Ten teams as the conference now has a dismal 1-9 record in its last 10 appearances in the “Granddaddy Of Them All.”
Overall, the Big Ten continues to struggle in January bowl games.
Northwestern, which won its first bowl game in more than 60 years, was the lone conference member to claim a New Year’s Day bowl victory.
Since the ‘Cats defeated Mississippi State, the Big Ten’s January bowl record the last three seasons is now an embarrassing 4-13.
Since the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions were ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions, that meant a team like Purdue, who was humiliated by 44 points by a far superior Oklahoma State team, played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl when at 6-6 it would’ve been in the Little Caesars Bowl, at best, in a so-called normal year when all Big Ten teams were eligible.
Oh yes, we can play the ‘What if,’ game forever.
Imagine if undefeated Ohio State was in the national championship game and perhaps Penn State or Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.
Would the Big Ten’s fate been any different? Doubtful.
The Buckeyes may have lost to Notre Dame in the national title game. Stanford would’ve been a problem for Nebraska, and the same could be said for the opponents who drew either Georgia or South Carolina.
But for teams like the Boilermakers, who suffered their worst bowl loss ever, a much more favorable matchup would’ve been against a Mid-American Conference team rather than the one that transpired against the OSU’s Cowboys.
At the end of the day, though, Purdue and the other Big Ten bowl teams can simply thank their conference brethren for not playing by the rules and as a result not only punished themselves. but all seven of the Big Ten teams involved in the postseason.
So it’s time to turn the page, forget about what was a miserable Big Ten football season and perhaps have some optimism heading into the 2013 campaign and what possibly could be a good showing in the bowl season.
I know being optimistic about a Big Ten bowl season is like Cubs fans looking forward to another baseball season. But it never hurts to dream, right?
Doug Griffiths is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths.