To say this has been a disappointing bowl season for the Big Ten would be a gross understatement. After starting the bowl season with surprise wins from Iowa and Illinois, the Big Ten entered New Year’s Day with five more chances to improve on those two wins. Unfortunately, all five teams lost on New Year’s Day.
It started with Northwestern vs. Texas Tech in the early game. After spotting Texas Tech a big first half lead, the Wildcats struggled to catch up, ultimately losing 45-38 to the Red Raiders. That was the first loss of the day for the Big Ten, and the first bowl loss of the season. The situation would not get any better.
Penn St couldn’t hold off Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators, blowing a 24-17 third quarter lead, and losing by a final score of 37-24. A “pick six” sealed the game for the Gators late in the fourth quarter.
The two Michigan schools failed to represent the Big Ten very well at all. Amazingly, they lost by a combined 101-21! Michigan State laid an egg against Alabama, with a tough Crimson Tide team that jumped on the Spartans from the opening kickoff and didn’t let up. Michigan played as if they would like to see Rich Rodriguez fired, getting crushed by the #24 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The final Big Ten team to play on New Year’s Day was the Wisconsin Badgers. Arguably the hottest team in the nation coming into the bowl game, Wisconsin was matched up in the Rose Bowl against an undefeated TCU team that earned an at large BCS birth. TCU played for “all the small schools” across the nation, and went toe to toe against the Badgers. When Wisconsin missed a game-tying 2 point conversion late in the game, TCU just had to run out the clock to hang on for a win. David beat Goliath to put the Big Ten out of their New Year’s Day misery.
Ohio State has yet to play their bowl game, but even with a win, the Big Ten would end the bowl season at a disappointing 3-5. Next year they add Nebraska (who also lost their bowl game), a Big Ten conference championship game, and hope for a respectable bowl showing.