Barely a month into the 2012 season, the Big Ten’s year of misery is only getting worse after Iowa fell at home in a 32-31 loss to MAC cellar-dweller Central Michigan.
At this point, one of the sport’s proudest leagues is approaching a level of futility usually reserved for the Big East.
Perhaps no school embodies the struggles of the Big Ten more than the Hawkeyes, who lost in spite of walk-on sophomore running back Mark Weisman’s 217-yard, three-touchdown performance.
The running back spot has been a revolving door for Kirk Ferentz’s club (per Brian Bennett of ESPN), but Weisman’s heroic effort still was not enough to top a MAC team that has gone 3-9 in each of the last two seasons.
If that isn't bad enough, Central Michigan was recently named one of the worst programs currently in the FBS, according to Michael Katz of USA Today.
Despite a solid game from quarterback James Vandenberg and a season-high point total out of their offense, the Hawkeyes defense and special teams failed them by losing an eight-point lead with a little over two minutes to play.
With Iowa already reeling from its Week 2 loss at the hands of in-state rival Iowa State, it's hard to imagine the scene in Iowa City improving this season—which continues a theme shared by traditional league powers such as Wisconsin and Penn State.
In reality, not much has gone right for the Big Ten since preseason favorite Michigan got steamrolled 41-14 by Alabama in prime time on the season’s opening weekend.
The fact that, entering today, three of the Big Ten’s four victories against BCS-conference opponents belong to Northwestern—and the Wildcats are the flag-bearers for Jim Delany’s league—speaks volumes about the struggles the rest of the conference has had in nonconference action.
Programs like Wisconsin (lost at Oregon State), Nebraska (lost at UCLA) and Michigan State (lost at home against Notre Dame) followed in the Wolverines’ footsteps by losing marquee nonconference games.
In addition to the aforementioned Wildcats, the only teams in the league that remain unbeaten are Ohio State—which is ineligible for postseason play this year—and perennial doormat Minnesota.
After Delany’s whimsical offseason remarks about the SEC, it's clear that the opening month of the season has been an outright disaster for the Big Ten.