College Football Analysis: What Happened to the Big Ten?

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If you watched the New Year’s Day Bowl games with your grandfather, he may have been confused. the Big Ten now has only two national titles since 1968 and the “powerhouse conference” just isn’t what it once was.

The Big Ten came into New Years day bowl games with an opportunity to change the growing perception that the conference is down recently. Well the conference as a whole failed in all five games, getting outscored 204-102 and instead of changing the perception, the Big Ten solidified it.

Wisconsin was the only team to lose by less than a touchdown, losing 21-19 to TCU in the Rose Bowl. The Wisconsin loss allowed TCU to remain undefeated and showed that the non automatic qualifiers can compete with the big conferences. Wisconsin relied too heavily on the passing game instead of their physical run game and this loss was probably the most painful for the Big Ten.

Michigan suffered its worst bowl loss in school history; another worst in history to add to the list during the Rich Rodriguez era. The awful Michigan defense gave up 42 unanswered points in a 52-14 blowout loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. This surely signifies the end for Rodriguez.

The 11-1 Michigan Spartans came into the Citrus Bowl with something to prove, feeling they got snubbed out of a Rose Bowl bid, and all they proved was that they were no match for Alabama. Sparty was crushed 49-7 and Saban showed no remorse for his former team. The Alabama defense was fantastic and the Crimson Tide were able to establish their run game.

Penn State at least kept it close for most of the game, but a late interception sealed the game, and Florida prevailed 37-24. The win gave Urban Meyer a victory in his last game as Gator head coach.

Northwestern, not normally considered a Big Ten power, at least kept it respectable and interesting, falling 45-38 to Texas Tech in the Ticket City Bowl. This game featured a ton of offense with both teams combining for 927 yards.

Despite the perception that the Big Ten has struggled against the SEC, the reality was that they were 15-15 over the past decade heading into this year’s bowl games. The Big Ten had an opportunity to prove that they are an elite conference, yet failed miserably. The perception that the Big Ten is an inferior conference will continue until the Big Ten can find a way to win a majority of bowl games against the other power conferences.

Random Musings

What’s the deal with Randy Edsall not flying home with his UConn team and having his players find out that he left for Maryland on the tarmac when they landed (see video)? Who does he think he is, Bobby Petrino?

As for the UConn program, we are hearing that fired Cleveland Browns head coach, Eric Mangini, has the inside track for the vacated UConn job as Edsall bolts for Maryland to replace ousted Ralph Friedgen. - Dr. David Silver

Dr. Silver uses his skills as a practicing optometrist to see things clearly as it pertains to the world of football. A University of Michigan graduate, David can be found rooting for the Big Blue on Saturdays and the Dolphins on Sundays.

You may email Dr. Silver at

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