The New Year’s Day bowl games are over and for the Big Ten the day was sobering at best.
The conference, thought among fans to be a powerhouse in football, had five bowl games to start off the New Year and managed to lose all of them. This marks the first New Year’s Day since 2002 that showed no Big Ten victories, and more specifically, no victories over rival SEC conference teams.
For fans it was a disappointing day that has left them as the punchline of jokes among friends. For many it was an effective way to back-up the theory that the Big Ten has been suffering many weaknesses in recent times. The three victories for the SEC over Big Ten teams simply left some with a reason to celebrate.
Not all of the losses occurred to SEC teams. In the first game of the day Northwestern faced Big 12 team Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl. Though the final score of 45-38 was hardly the worst loss of the day, it did set the precedent for what was to come for the conference.
In the Outback Bowl the SEC’s Florida met up against the Big Ten’s Penn State. In a game that was considered quite close, Florida pulled out the victory with a final of 37-24.
The Big Ten’s co-champion team Michigan State was set to face off against Alabama in the Capital One Bowl, but many have since questioned if the team actually showed up for the game at all. In a contest that was not even remotely close, SEC team Alabama took a landslide victory over the champs with a 49-7 final score.
It has been no secret that Big Ten powerhouse Michigan has had some rocky times. It has even been speculated that the Gator Bowl results could impact the fate of coach Rich Rodriguez. If so, he may be in trouble. The 52-14 loss against SEC team Mississippi State is the worst loss in Michigan’s bowl game history.
Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin went into the grandaddy of all bowl games this year for the first time since 1999. Opponent TCU has never been in the Rose Bowl before. Although Wisconsin faced the tournament as a strong team, many predicted a victory from TCU. The game was close and considered anyone’s game until the final moments when Wisconsin brought the Big Ten their fifth and final loss of the day. The score of the biggest bowl game aside from the championship: 21-19.
The Big Ten has one more shot at a bowl game victory on January 4 when co-champion Ohio State will face SEC team Arkansas.