That's right, every Big Ten Conference fan—yes, even those of you wearing blue up in Michigan—should be rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes to take down Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
And looking back at Michigan's 31-14 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Wolverines fans should especially be pulling for their archrival.
The league has been a noted laughingstock in the postseason with an 8-15 record over the past three seasons, including a 2-4 mark this year. Add in two losses by future Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers, and the league's outlook is even worse.
So as painful as it might be for Big Ten fans, the conference could use an Orange Bowl victory—even after Michigan State's momentous Rose Bowl win over Stanford.
Going into that contest, the league was 1-9 in the last 10 Rose Bowls and was just 1-4 in this bowl season. The only win came by Nebraska over a depleted Georgia squad in the Gator Bowl. And when the Spartans fell down 10-0 to Stanford, it looked like it would be another stumble for the conference on the big stage.
However, MSU stormed back and brought home an enormous 24-20 win behind a gutsy defensive effort and a massive day from quarterback Connor Cook.
Afterward, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said he was "fired up for the Big Ten."
#MichiganState DC Pat Narduzzi on beating Stanford to win Rose Bowl: "I'm so fired up for the Big Ten."— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 2, 2014
The Broyles Award winner had reason to be amped for his league, which was starving for even a sliver of national respect.
Just an enormous win for Michigan State and the Big Ten. Spartans no plucky underdog anymore, just beat two Top 5 teams.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 2, 2014
As the Big Ten champion Spartans topped the Pac-12 champion Cardinal, it was Step One for the league this postseason—and now Ohio State will have its chance to carry the torch for the conference.
While MSU's win was about grabbing some positive recognition for the league, OSU's tilt with Clemson will be more about maintaining its reputation.
A victory over the Tigers won't put the Big Ten on the map. Clemson was crushed by South Carolina in its regular-season finale and was clearly far behind ACC champion Florida State.
Meanwhile, Ohio State was expected to not only win the Big Ten but compete for a national title as well. The Buckeyes fell short of both goals but are still seen as a top-tier team, right alongside the Spartans and the best teams from around the country.
OSU will be favored heading into the game. The Buckeyes opened at minus-5 favorites but have seen that drop to minus-3, per VegasInsider.com.
If they leave Miami with an upset loss to Clemson, it will look poor for them and the Big Ten.
|Conference||Record||Key Wins||Still to Play|
|AAC||2-2||UCF over Baylor, Louisville over Miami (Fla.)||Houston vs. Vanderbilt|
|ACC||3-6||Syracuse over Minnesota||Clemson vs. Ohio State, Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Big Ten||2-4||Michigan State over Stanford, Nebraska over Georgia||Ohio State vs. Clemson|
|Big 12||2-2||Kansas State over Michigan, Texas Tech over Arizona State||Oklahoma vs. Alabama, Oklahoma State vs. Missouri|
|Pac-12||7-2||Oregon over Texas, UCLA over Virginia Tech||None|
|SEC||5-1||South Carolina over Wisconsin, LSU over Iowa||Alabama vs. Oklahoma, Vanderbilt vs. Houston, Missouri vs. Oklahoma State, Auburn vs. Florida State|
The ACC is the only major conference that has looked as bad as the Big Ten this bowl season. The league is 3-6 thus far, though one of those wins—Syracuse's defeat of Minnesota—came over a Big Ten team.
If Ohio State can take down Clemson, it'll render that result void and give the Big Ten a major bump over the ACC.
With the SEC still the SEC and the Pac-12 posting an overall impressive bowl season, Ohio State stands as the last chance for the Big Ten to show that it isn't the slow, old man's conference that it is often perceived to be.
Big Ten fans don't have to admit to actually rooting for the Buckeyes; they can just say, "I'm rooting for the Big Ten." Semantics aside, the league needs another BCS victory.