Being the face of Big Ten football has its benefits, but it comes with responsibility.
So far, the Michigan Wolverines have done an admirable job representing the conference throughout the decades—they're one of the most popular teams in college football because of their rich history and winning ways.
And if Michigan is to continue being so popular among fans throughout the nation, it has to do more than "show up" New Year's Day during the 2013 Outback Bowl against the loaded South Carolina Gamecocks, who finished third in the SEC East.
A lopsided loss would only strengthen debates that support the idea of how the Big Ten continues to lose grace in the college football world.
A lopsided loss from one of its elite programs would be a smack in the face to the Big Ten, which certainly can't count on teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska to bring home bowl victories.
Michigan, perhaps, is the conference's only real hope. The Cornhuskers were blown out in the Big Ten title game and face an SEC juggernaut, the Georgia Bulldogs, in the Capital One Bowl.
That game won't be pretty for Bo Pelini and Company.
And the Spartans?
Well, they have the task of downing TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl—anything is possible, but don't count on a strong outing from the Spartans, who were the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten and one of the most unlucky teams in the country, along with Michigan, according to recently released data.
Don't forget about the Badgers, either. They'll have trouble with Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Michigan's history with the SEC in bowl games
Remember Michigan's embarrassing 52-14 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2010 Gator Bowl?
Well, if the Wolverines fail to correct issues, they could face a similar fate Jan. 1 against South Carolina.
However, the Wolverines have an okay resume against SEC teams in bowl atmospheres, defeating quality teams that, at times, had superstars on their rosters.
2011 Gator Bowl
Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14
Too much Bulldogs, not enough Wolverines (obviously).
2008 Capital One Bowl
Michigan 41, Florida 35
Three touchdowns from Heisman winner Tim Tebow weren't enough for the Gators to down Chad Henne and the Wolverines.
2003 Outback Bowl
Michigan 38, Florida 30
Star running back Chris Perry scored four touchdowns, the most in a bowl game during the modern era of Michigan football.
2002 Citrus Bowl
Tennessee 45, Michigan 17
Michigan was held scoreless in the first and third quarters and was thoroughly dominated by the Volunteers.
2001 Citrus Bowl
Michigan 31, Auburn 28
Drew Henson threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns, while Anthony Thomas rushed for 182 yards and scored twice. Key performances from key players is what Michigan needed, and that's what it was given from two of the best to ever play in Ann Arbor.
2000 Orange Bowl
Michigan 35, Alabama 34
Not all Michigan-Alabama games are lopsided in favor of the Tide (see Michigan's 41-14 season-opening loss in 2012).
Tom Brady set a Michigan bowl record with 369 yards in the overtime thriller. Receiver David Terrell had a career-best 150 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Can Michigan handle the pressure applied by the SEC? Does history really matter?
While it's always entertaining to look at the past, it's not always the proper way to go about analyzing sports.
But it seems, more times than not, Michigan flourishes when big-name players take command of matchups with its southern counterparts.
Michigan's success has been largely predicated on the performances of star players. Without Brady's accuracy, Michigan probably wouldn't have been able to mount an incredible 21-point rally in the third quarter of the 2000 Orange Bowl.
Without Drew Henson's 294 passing yards, the Wolverines probably wouldn't have escaped the Tigers in the 2001 Citrus Bowl.
Denard Robinson has the ability to influence the outcome of the 2013 Outback Bowl against the—but will he come through?
Michigan has the firepower to combat South Carolina, it's just a matter of properly utilizing players during challenging scenarios. While most favor South Carolina, Michigan has the talent to notch a win for the Big Ten.
Give Devin Gardner a chance to extend the field, and let Robinson do what he's famous for doing. That's a recipe that works for Michigan.
Big Ten needs Michigan to win
This is self-explanatory. As mentioned earlier, Michigan is the face of the league, so a win from the Wolverines would serve the Big Ten well and help its overall reputation.
The last thing the Big Ten needs is for another debacle similar to Michigan State's 49-7 trouncing that came courtesy of the Tide in the 2011 Capital One Bowl.
The Wolverines were expected to compete for a Big Ten championship this season. Now, they're not only playing for pride, but they're playing for the other 11 teams that call the Big Ten their home.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81