Two. And Oh.
Still smarting from the double indignity of being snubbed by the College Football Playoff AND being kicked it out of its traditional holiday getaway, the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten won its first two bowl games.
And the disrespected Midwesterners went Coast-to-Coast to pull off their daily double.
Neither win will bowl anybody over outside of Big Ten country, and maybe not even there. But it beat the alternative, so to speak.
Iowa rallied to defeat Boston College 27-20 in the Pinstripe Bowl on the frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium. And Purdue rallied to defeat Arizona 38-35 at the Foster Farms Bowl in nippy Northern California, at the 49ers Levi’s Stadium home in Santa Clara.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
HAWKEYES HAVE IT
The wind chill was 12 degrees in Yankee Stadium. And the footing was so slippery, the teams could have borrowed footwear from the New York Rangers and Islanders.
But victory took the sting out of the frigid air.
I’m sure my buddy Blaudschun will be able to explain how BC managed to lose despite outgaining Iowa by a whopping 383 yards to 200 yards. Short answer: Eagles, 3 turnovers. Iowa, none.
With the win, the Hawkeyes ended a five-game bowl losing streak. They were the only team in the nation that had lost bowl games in each of the previous four seasons.
The official low in Santa Clara was 38 degrees.
It’s difficult to say who was more iced up about the referees, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm or Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. Brohm’s animated theatrics were awfully good, and I’m sure they left lip-readers cringing.
But in the end, we’ll give the nod to RichRod. Since he lost the game, his anger figures to stick around longer.
The Wildcats were especially upset by Purdue’s fake-kneel play,in which 5-foot-7 running back D.J. Knox hides behind his linemen, and goes left after some Fumblerooski-like misdirection stuff.
The Boilermakers, who led 31-17 at the half and trailed 35-31 with 3:21 left, scored the game winner on a 38-yard pass from sophomore Elijah Sindelar to Anthony Mahoungou with 1:44 left.
No need to buy a vowel with that scoring tandem.
Purdue (7-6), which had only won nine games in four seasons before Brohm arrived, gave another sign that it’s going to continue its revival under its new coach. This is Purdue's first winning season since 2011.
Not only does Sindelar return. The injured QB he replaced, talented and experienced junior David Blough, intends to return in 2018 for what ought to be an interesting position battle.
POISED FOR MORE—OR ELSE
Don’t over-think this, but one of the pluses of not having a team in the playoff might be that other Big Ten teams are not stepping up in weight class in terms of their post-season opponent.
I caution against over-thinking because there are plenty of games left to play.
The quest continues tonight (Dec. 28), when stoic Mark Dantonio tries to get the last laugh against Mike ``the Entertainer'' Leach in the Michigan State-Washington State Holiday Bowl in San Diego, which is closer to Pasadena and likely to be warmer. Which won’t be hard to do.
If you’re keeping score at home, the Big Ten is the favorite in all six of its remaining bowl games. Sparty is favored by 2 vs. Wazou, the same spread as Penn-State over Washington in the other Apple Cup pairing.
Wisconsin is a 4-1/2 point favorite over Miami despite playing in Miami. And Northwestern (vs. Kentucky), Ohio State (vs. USC) and Michigan (vs. South Carolina) all are favored by 7-1/2 points.
Not that point spreads mean anything, particularly during bowl season.
What it really means is that commissioner Jim Delany will either have ammo—or ‘splainin’ to do.[/membership]