Big Ten, Big Wins

With Iowa’s win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, the Big Ten ended its bowl season — and a pleasantly successful bowl season it was, for a change.  The wins by the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Hawkeyes meant that the Big Ten was undefeated in BCS bowls, and Penn State and Wisconsin also had marquee wins over LSU and Miami, respectively.

It would have been nice if Northwestern, Minnesota, and Michigan State had pulled out wins in their games, too, but I’ll take a 4-3 bowl record for now.  After all of the criticism of the Big Ten as “overrated,” “slow,” “unimaginative,” “boring,” and so forth, it was nice to see Big Ten teams step up in games against top-ranked teams and show what they could do.  I think the bowl games demonstrated that this year’s Big Ten had many strong teams with excellent athletes and coaches.  It should quiet the naysayers for a while, at least.

In my view, one of the reasons the Big Ten gets dissed is that key Big Ten games tend to be low scoring.  Pundits seem to focus on offense; this year they were excited about Cincinnati, for example, because the Bearcats scored a lot of points.  It didn’t seem to make a difference to them that, in many of its games, Cincinnati also gave up a lot of points.  Big Ten games often are low scoring because Big Ten teams usually emphasize defense.  The Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl, where Ohio State and Iowa were able to dampen high-flying offenses, shows that defensive capabilities shouldn’t be overlooked.

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