Make no mistake about it, the Big Ten benefits from seeing Ohio State celebrate a national championship victory. Whenever a school in a conference wins a national championship, it is good for the entire conference. The Big Ten may have turned in its most successful postseason in a while, but the conference still has work to do to ensure the narrative surrounding the conference is wiped away entirely in 2015.
Ohio State’s victory Monday night improved the Big Ten to 6-5 this postseason, which is not too shabby for a conference that was picked as an underdog in each of its 11 postseason games this year. Among those wins included the Big Ten champion Buckeyes turning aside both the SEC champion (Alabama in the Sugar Bowl) and the Pac-12 champion (Oregon, which also took out the ACC champion in the Rose Bowl). In a battle of champions, the Big Ten came out as the last man standing. Just for good measure, the Big Ten added a victory against the Big 12 champions from Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. In all, the Big Ten broke even with the SEC in bowl games (2-2) and swept the ACC (2-0) and Big 12 (1-0). The Pac-12 won the head-to-head match-ups against the Big Ten (Pac-12 went 2-1 against the Big Ten), but that is merely a side note when that one Big Ten win was Ohio State’s national championship victory. Still, more will be demanded of the Big Ten.
The goal in 2015 for the Big Ten is to prove to the college football world this was not a fluke. The bar has been raised in the Big Ten, and Ohio State is a big reason why. Ohio State proved it is fully capable of carrying the Big Ten banner on the national stage, and Michigan State has done its part as a supporting cast member in recent seasons, but the conference needs more from the rest of the conference.
The Big Ten still needs Michigan’s expectations with Jim Harbaugh to live up to the hype.
The Big Ten still needs Penn State and Nebraska to be relevant.
The Big Ten needs Wisconsin and Michigan State to keep the momentum going as well.
Is the Big Ten back? Well, not exactly, but it sure as heck is a better conference now than many thought it was in week two of the 2014 season.