Bowl-game records by conference are fun and great to talk about around a camp fire. Like Justin Bieber or any Kardashian, however, they are not to be taken THAT seriously.
A lot has been made by the post-Guttenberg press media about the Big Ten going 3-7 in the post season, allegedly rendering null and void one of the finest recent years in conference history.
The Big Ten entered bowl season with the hard-earned reputation of being this year’s top overall league, only to have that honor stripped like bars off a treasonous soldier (older readers who loved Chuck Connors in "Branded" will get that reference. "Branded, marked with the coward's shame." Theme song, by the way, written Dominic Frontiere, husband of former Rams' owner Georgia).
Did the Big Ten have a rough bowl season?
Yeah, but we’re not ready, like Premier League football, to relegate the Big Ten to play next year with Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Bowl season is like the potato-sack race at your annual company picnic. A loss shouldn’t impact your "Employee of the Year" award or warrant a file opened by Human Resources.
The Atlantic Coast had a good bowl season, going 8-3, which has led some to anoint the ACC as the top league, never-minding that “slugger” Louisville lost its final three games and got taken off its bowl field on a stretcher.
Bowl games, by conference, are not equal. The Pac 12 only played in six this year. The Sun Belt went 4-2. Some match-ups are better than others and some schools get easier travel assignments. Only on really, really bad traffic days does it take USC longer to get to the Rose Bowl than Penn State.
So I’m not ready to walk the Big Ten off the plank. The conference had two rotten performances: Ohio State’s 31-0 no-show against Clemson and Iowa’s blow-out loss to Florida.
Penn State lost the Rose Bowl on a last-second field goal. Michigan lost a terrific Orange Bowl by one point to Florida State. The Big Ten also had to file a business bowl "write-off on Maryland, which many people still think is in the ACC.
Indiana lost, yes, but outplayed Utah in a two-point loss in the Foster Farm.
In truth, the Big Ten was a couple plays from being 6-4 and 6-3 if you sent Maryland back where it belongs.
Mr. Positive notes Northwestern defeated Pittsburgh, which beat Clemson, while Minnesota’s defense dominated Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
So let’s not make a Federal Case out of the Big Ten’s woes. The SEC and Pac 12 combined to go 9-9 this year, yet no one is going to tell me these are .500 conferences.
The SEC West has been the best conference in college football for a decade, yet the division went 2-5 on the 2014 bowl-game circuit. Its five TOP teams lost, with the only wins coming from unranked Texas A&M and Arkansas.
The Big Ten went 0-5 in Jan. 1 bowl games in 2011, led by Wisconsin’s loss to Texas Christian in the Rose Bowl.
The Big Ten may have been overrated this year, with the ACC being underrated. But not by any factor that warrants an investigation.
The ACC did get a nice, post-season bump in Jeff Sagarin’s latest conference rankings, but the top leagues are still the top leagues.
The SEC West is still No.1 despite Auburn getting drilled by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. And the SEC East is still No. 9 despite nice bowl wins by its top two teams, Florida and Tennessee. And the Pac South is still No. 8 despite USC’s thrilling Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
So, while bowl wins are nice, they do not necessarily define conference performance over the course of three months.
Get back with me, though, if Clemson topples Alabama in Monday’s national title game.
At that point, I’ll get on a soap box and led the cheer: ACC! ACC![/membership]