If the best way for the Big Ten to restore the national perception of the conference is to win games against non-conference opponents, it appears the conference is continuing to come up short when it counts. Last bowl season the Big Ten finished with a record of 2-5. The previous year the conference finished 4-6.
Michigan was blown out by Kansas State Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 31-14. It was the first bowl win for Kansas State in 11 years and the second straight bowl loss for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines. Michigan now has just one bowl victory since the 2007 season. Kansas State out-gained the Wolverines 420-261 in a bowl game that the Big Ten is getting out of heading in to 2014.
Minnesota opened the Big Ten’s bowl season with a loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl. The Gophers had come from behind in the fourth quarter but failed to hold on to the late lead by giving up a go-ahead touchdown with a little over a minute to play in a 21-17 setback.
That puts the Big Ten in a 0-2 hole right out of the gate of the bowl season.
It gets worse of course. The Big Ten’s two new additions in 2014, Maryland and Rutgers, also took losses in the early slate of bowl games this season. Maryland lost what was essentially a home game against Marshall in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland. Marshall handed the Terps a 31-20 loss after coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Rutgers took a 29-16 beating by Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl, another game being played close to home.
Over the last three years, including the two games this season, the Big Ten is 2-5 against the SEC in bowl games, 1-5 against the Big 12 and 1-2 against the Pac 12. The Big Ten still has time to bounce back of course, but things are off to a rough start.
Perhaps coincidentally, the MAC is off to an 0-4 start this postseason as well. The MAC, of course, plays in the same geographic region as the Big Ten. Maybe there’s something in the water.