Five Big Ten teams played New Year’s Day bowls yesterday, and all five lost. Even worse from the standpoint of proud Big Ten fans, conference teams were swept by the SEC, and two of the games were blowouts, as Alabama pulverized Michigan State and Mississippi State crushed Michigan.
I’m sure that there are some Big Ten fans, somewhere, who are making excuses for the poor performances, and others who are saying that bowl games are all about match-ups and the match-ups were unfavorable. When it comes to college football respect, however, perception is reality — and yesterday’s string of bowl failures reinforces the perception that the plodding Big Ten can’t compete on the big stage. Going 0-5 is an embarrassment and just makes the Big Ten’s road to respectability that much steeper.
The conference’s last hope for some shred of redemption is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who take on Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night. It would be ironic indeed if Ohio State were able to salvage some Big Ten pride by beating an SEC team in a bowl game for the first time after nine straight losses.