Just in case you haven't heard, I'll tell you again: The Big Ten is down. Well, at least according to the SEC.
Ever since Ohio State lost two consecutive National Championships to SEC teams, the entire conference has gained an unwanted reputation for being the worst in the country.
Is this true? Of course not. While the Big Ten certainly isn't the best conference, it's also far from the worst. In fact, it may be the second- or third-best conference this year.
But none of those numbers matter. To the SEC, the Big Ten will still be down, even if the teams all finish 1-11 nationally.
So how can the conference reverse its negative image? I really don't know.
The truth is, there may be nothing the Big Ten can do.
The other conferences will say anything to keep the Big Ten image bad, using it as a scapegoat for their own problems. And the SEC has an excuse for any good wins by Big Ten teams.
- Penn State's 40+ point win over near-Rose Bowl bound Oregon State last season came because the Beavers hadn't hit their stride yet.
- Iowa's Outback Bowl win over South Carolina last year wasn't legit because South Carolina isn't representative of other SEC teams.
- Iowa's demolition of an Arizona team that was a play away from the Rose Bowl doesn't count because the Wildcats were a different team early in the season.
The list goes on and on. But those were regular season games. Could an undefeated bowl season finally help change the conference's image?
Many experts see that as the only way for the Big Ten to finally leave the "cellar," but it may not be enough. The SEC will just find a reason to make each win look bad.
Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Iowa State
SEC Excuse: Who can't beat Iowa State? This is the same team that lost 35-3 to lowly Iowa, who doesn't even deserve a BCS bowl.
Our bottom teams, like Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, would destroy the Cyclones. This should count as a loss because Minnesota didn't win by more than 50.
Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech
SEC Excuse: Texas Tech isn't nearly as good this year as they were last year because they lost Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. Ole Miss beat them last year with those guys, meaning anyone in our conference could beat them this year.
Champs Sports Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin
SEC Excuse: Miami's still a few years away from being a good program. They were extremely inconsistent this year, and this was just another one of their bad games. If they played each other again, Miami would surely win. This was just a fluke.
Outback Bowl: Northwestern vs. Auburn
SEC Excuse: Auburn is still adapting to a new system under Gene Chizik. They weren't great this year and shouldn't have even been here.
If another team had been chosen for the Outback Bowl, Northwestern surely would have lost. This was just a tough draw for the SEC, and it's unfair to count this as a loss for our conference.
Capital One Bowl: Penn State vs. LSU
SEC Excuse: Congrats, you can beat the third best team in our conference. LSU lost to Florida and Alabama, who are the only elite teams in the conference, so this win doesn't prove anything.
Alabama would have demolished Penn State, and we'll find that out for sure next season.
Orange Bowl: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
SEC Excuse: Beating Georgia Tech means nothing. The ACC is awful this year. It's not as bad as the Big Ten, but bad enough that they don't deserve an automatic BCS bid.
Plus, Iowa lost to Northwestern, making its entire season illegit, and there were thousands more Iowa fans in Miami than Georgia Tech fans, turning this game into a home game for Iowa.
If this game had been played in Atlanta, Georgia Tech would have won.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
SEC Excuse: Oregon isn't really that good. Their best win came against a reeling USC team, and they barely beat Arizona.
Florida and Alabama would have destroyed Oregon, meaning this win does nothing for the Big Ten. They are still by far the worst conference.
So pick your excuses, SEC fans. The Big Ten knows they're coming. You can talk all you want about the 1-6 bowl record last season, but for you, there's no difference between 1-6 and 7-0.
No matter what happens this bowl season, the Big Ten is in a no-win situation. Because no matter what happens, the Big Ten is still down.
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