Big Ten Finishes with Three Teams in the AP Top 10

B.Senior Analyst IJanuary 8, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Marvin McNutt #7 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after their 24-14 win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

After Alabama's defeat of Texas in the BCS National Championship game, the final Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls were released.

And the Big Ten's strong showing in post-season play earned three of the conference's teams a spot in the top 10. 

Four teams finished in the top 20.

Ohio State lands at No. 5 in the AP (No. 5 in USA Today) after going 11-2 on the season and beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl. They shot above a 12-1 TCU team that lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

This is the highest finish for the Buckeyes since losing the National championship game in 2006 and finishing No. 2. 

Iowa moves up three spots to No. 7 in the AP (No. 7 in USA Today) after finishing the season 11-2 and dominating Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. This is the highest finish for the Hawkeyes since 1960, when they were third in the final poll.

Georgia Tech, Oregon and Cincinnati were all ranked ahead of Iowa after the regular season, but all lost their bowl matchups (two of which to Big Ten teams).

"You flash back to our first ball game, I don’t think anybody envisioned us sitting here with our 11th win," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said after the Orange Bowl victory.

Penn State's strong showing in the Capital One Bowl over LSU helped the Nittany Lions sneak into the top 10 at No. 9 in the AP (No. 8 in USA Today). It is Penn State's second-straight top 10 finish. Last year they finished No. 6 after losing to USC in the Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin's smashing of Miami helped them finish No. 16 in the polls, up eight spots from their previous position.  

Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern all lost their bowl games, but all came very close to winning. 

Northwestern took Auburn into overtime, and would have likely won the game if it weren't for a 100-yard pick-six. Michigan State would have undoubtedly won had it not been for the unfortunate suspension of what seemed like half of their football team after a brawl on campus.

The Big Ten finished 4-3 in bowl games this season , with two of the wins in BCS games.  That trounces last year's 1-6 performance, and should speak volumes to skeptics across the country.

In the last nine season, the Big Ten had gone 4-11 in BCS games, causing many to doubt the conference. 

This year helps reverse that doubt. With two BCS bowl wins and four wins against ranked teams, there isn't much left for the Big Ten to prove.

"It's gratifying, but it's way too easy just to generalize, 'this conference is down, that conference is down.' Maybe this will put some of those theories to rest for at least six more months," said Iowa's Ferentz after the Hawkeyes won the Orange Bowl.  

Or, as LL Cool J would say, don't call it a comeback...we've been here for years.

Final Associated Press Rankings
1. Alabama 14-0
2. Texas 13-1
3. Florida 13-1
4. Boise St. 14-0
5. Ohio St. 11-2
6. TCU 12-1
7. Iowa 11-2
8. Cincinnati 12-1
9. Penn St. 11-2
10. Virginia Tech 10-3
11. Oregon 10-3
12. BYU 11-2
13. Georgia Tech 11-3
14. Nebraska 10-4
15. Pittsburgh 10-3
16. Wisconsin 10-3
17. LSU 9-4 
18. Utah 10-3 
19. Miami 9-4 
20. Mississippi 9-4 
21. Texas Tech 9-4 
22. Southern Cal 9-4
23. Cent. Michigan 12-2 
24. Clemson 9-5 
25. West Virginia 9-4


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