Every conference has a down year or two, and the Big Ten is in the middle of one hell of down year right now.
No. 10 Michigan State’s embarrassing 20-3 loss to No. 20 Notre Dame now means there are no Big Ten teams that look (as of Week 3) like they can win a Rose Bowl, let alone a BCS championship.
Michigan, thought to be back on the upswing among traditional powers, was ripped apart by Alabama in Week 1; Nebraska’s early-season loss to No. 22 UCLA leads us to believe it’s another 9-4 season in Lincoln; defending Big Ten champ Wisconsin has been… well… the Badgers needed Utah State miss a field goal to beat the Aggies.
We’ll just leave it at that.
Even the Big Ten’s best option right now, No. 12 Ohio State, is ineligible to compete in the Big Ten championship and a postseason game because of NCAA sanctions, and the Buckeyes didn’t look particularly strong against Cal on Saturday, either.
Yes, we know. There are some of you — particularly in the Southeastern quadrant of this great country — who called this little factoid before the season began. We apologize, and we promise to read your emails more carefully next time.
But the reality is that there are no Big Ten teams carrying the flag for a conference ridiculed for being too slow, too old-fashioned. You know, “old man football.” To put it into perspective, Big Ten teams have a combined four wins over BCS conference opponents. Three of those are courtesy of Northwestern.
There are two times when conferences get to whip out their measuring stick: nonconference games and bowl season. So far, the Big Ten’s coming up short — way short — in the former category.