Which Big Ten Team Has the Best Chance to Beat the SEC in a Bowl Game?
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The Big Ten has not had the greatest record of success against the SEC in bowl games recently. Perhaps you've heard.
It hasn't exactly helped that Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas was vacated, because now the SEC fans can say "You needed to cheat to beat us in a big bowl" and they're not completely incorrect.
As per the standing bowl agreements, the Big Ten has three games against the SEC (all on New Year's Day), and if that's making you cringe, it should. The SEC is as strong as it's ever been, with an astonishing six teams in the Top 10 of the BCS standings.
The Big Ten only had six teams even receive votes in the most recent AP Top 25 Poll—and that's the poll that's allowed to consider Ohio State and Penn State.
Which team will win its bowl game against the SEC?
So yeah, not good times—especially when the Big Ten's bowl deals more or less match the SEC's in terms of seeding. And yet despite all that, there's a pretty decent chance the Big Ten comes away with a win come January 1.
Michigan and Nebraska are the two strongest at-large teams representing the Big Ten in the bowls this season, and yet, of the three teams playing SEC foes, they're the two least likely to pick up a win in their bowls.
That's, of course, because of the competition. Nebraska was without a doubt the class of the Legends Division, but there's a difference between "best of six Big Ten teams, all of whom have three losses or more" and a Georgia team that came achingly close to the BCS National Championship this season.
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Similarly, Michigan faces a South Carolina team that's going to have its ears pinned back against the Wolverines. Jadeveon Clowney is arguably the best defensive end in the country, and he's capable of wreaking havoc all over the line against a Michigan offensive front that has been shaky at times this season.
The Gamecock defense as a whole is punishing, as a matter of fact, and it's going to take a wildly inventive game plan from Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges to keep the Wolverines close.
It's okay to laugh at that last sentence. We couldn't get through it with a straight face.
Ah, but Northwestern and Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Here, we've got a team in Northwestern that could hang with anyone on its schedule against a Mississippi State team that couldn't beat a single good team on its schedule.
The Bulldogs are still going to be a challenge for Northwestern, as the Wildcats didn't really beat that many strong opponents, but the fact that Northwestern led in the fourth quarter of every game it played this season—often by double digits—should say enough about the overall quality of the team.
Wouldn't that be something? Northwestern, the Big Ten team with the most blown double-digit leads (three) and the longest bowl win drought, picking up the Big Ten's lone bowl win against the mighty SEC.
Hey, take your wins however you can get them.
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