BOZICH | Big Ten football DOES NOT stink -- despite bowl struggl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Big Ten football DOES NOT stink -- despite bowl struggles

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Michigan's Jim Harbaugh (left) and Urban Meyer of Ohio State weren't able to help the Big Ten with bowl wins this season. Michigan's Jim Harbaugh (left) and Urban Meyer of Ohio State weren't able to help the Big Ten with bowl wins this season.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This is the Tweet I was poised to post before brainy James Franklin decided Penn State could rope-a-dope through the final 10 minutes of the Rose Bowl:

The Twitter narrative has Big Ten 0-10 in bowls. Actually, B1G went 4-6 — with six ‘Dogs. Losses by 1, 2, 6.

Thank heavens for the Delete key — and Brent Musburger. (I’m still waiting for an apology for his absurd comments about Oklahoma halfback Joe Mixon.)

Correction: The Big Ten went 3-7 with losses by 1, 2, 3 and 6.

This is my story and I’m sticking with it: 

Big Ten football DOES NOT stink.

I didn’t say Big Ten football was great. I said it DOES NOT stink.

It’s not high praise. But it’s more accurate than the narrative that Big Ten teams are too slow or too conservative to compete successfully against teams from the other Power Five leagues.

With Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) and James Franklin (Penn State) on the grounds, the Big Ten will stuff at least three teams into the pre-season Top 10 next season.

That, however, is not today’s snapshot.

The Atlantic Coast Conference clearly has the most to celebrate during this post season — and if Clemson upsets Alabama in the national championship game commissioner John Swofford can market the league as Triple Crown winners.

That would be Heisman Trophy (Lamar Jackson of Louisville), best bowl record (8-3 with one relatively major game to play) and national champions (it’s up to Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and the Cards’ friends at Clemson).

But the gap between the Big Ten and everybody else isn’t much. In fact, there were days during the season when it wasn’t even a gap.

A final word about those bowl losses:

Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska earned all the snark anybody can shovel.

The Buckeyes played as if they belonged in the GMAC Bowl. Kirk Ferentz has rarely done anything to justify his hype (or contract) at Iowa. Nebraska is still waiting for the next Tom Osborne.

Those three teams lost their bowl games by a combined 72 points. Go ahead and pile on. It’s deserved.

Let’s remember the rest of the story.

Michigan was one play (and some questionable officiating) from defeating Florida State. Lost by one.

Indiana was a missed field goal from beating Utah. Lost by two — as a four-point underdog.

Change a play (maybe two) and Penn State fans leave the Rose Bowl with more than heartburn and credit card debt. Lost on a last-second field goal as a 7-point underdog.

Besides, bowl matchups are one way to judge the strength of college football conferences but they’re hardly the only way or the best way. 

Who made the rules that the games the Big Ten played in the last 10 days are more meaningful than Michigan defeating Colorado, Ohio State winning at Oklahoma, Wisconsin toppling Louisiana State or Nebraska edging Oregon during the first month of the season?

Prior to the bowls, Big Ten teams played a dozen games against teams from Power 5 leagues or Notre Dame). They won eight.

The league played nine more Power 5 opponents in bowls. It won  two.

That’s 10 wins, 11 defeats. I don’t need to ask Jeff Sagarin or any  other college football power ratings guru, but that’s essentially an average year.

What story do the college football computer rankings tell?

The consensus is there is no consensus.

I checked the six ratings once used in the Bowl Championship Series formula that ruled college football until the 2014 season.

Dr. Peter Wolfe’s formula ranked the leagues this way: 1. SEC; 2. Pac 12; 3. Big Ten; 4. American Athletic (huh?); 5. ACC; 6. Big 12.

The Colley Matrix formula disagreed: 1. Big Ten; 2. ACC; 3. SEC; 4. Pac-12; 5. AAC; 6. Big 12.

Sagarin had another breakdown: 1. SEC West; 2. ACC Atlantic (Louisville’s division); 3. Pac-12 North; 4. ACC Coastal; 5. Big Ten East (IU’s division); 6. Big Ten West; 7. Big 12; 8. Pac-12 South; 9. SEC East (Kentucky’s division).

I could not find conference ratings for the other three formulas (Billingsley; Anderson-Hester and Massey). I’m not certain what those rankings would say.

Maybe that Big Ten football was blah. Or that it was meh. Or that it was simply ordinary.

But Big Ten football DOES NOT stink. It’s hardly high praise. But it’s more accurate than the current narrative raging around Big Ten football.

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