Big Ten Football: Why The SEC's Dominance Will Be Challenged in 2011

Sam MattfolkContributor ISeptember 22, 2010

Nebraska Freshman QB Taylor Martinez
Nebraska Freshman QB Taylor MartinezOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With the 2010 football season finally underway, the Big Ten brass should be very excited about the conference’s future. Six Big Ten squads sit in this week’s AP Top 25, and the addition of Nebraska will make the league every bit as formidable as the SEC. Here are the three main reasons the Big Ten is ready to rival the SEC:

1.       Young Talent at Quarterback     

The college football landscape has recently been dominated by quarterbacks, and the future of the Big Ten looks bright at some of its premier programs with Denard Robinson at Michigan, Robert Bolden at Penn State, and incoming Taylor Martinez at Nebraska. Robinson and Martinez have been electrifying in their first seasons starting at two of college football’s most recognizable brands and already top many Heisman watch lists. Even doormats such as Illinois and Minnesota have some hope for the future with young talent at QB.

2.       National Exposure

The addition of Nebraska brings about four or five more prominent television events to the league each year. The inaugural Big Ten Championship Game will stretch the Big Ten season into December, keeping the league on the national radar when the league was once dormant before Thanksgiving. The relative balance of the divisions should also create major match-ups every year, allowing the game to challenge the SEC as the NCAA’s best championship game. The success of the Big Ten Network also allows the Big Ten to remain the most lucrative conference in the nation. This will begin to pay off in recruiting as Big Ten schools are able to build and retain the nation’s most state-of-the art facilities with all that extra revenue.

3.       End of the “Big Two, Little 9” Era

This past decade has seen sustained success from multiple programs, and the Big Ten’s old depth problem is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State all have become steady contenders for the conference crown. Michigan State and Northwestern have both seen improvement in recent years under big-time head coaches Mark Dantonio and Pat Fitzgerald. Even Michigan appears to be back on the way up following a tumultuous downward spiral since the death of legendary coach Bo Schembechler. Down in Columbus, Jim Tressel’s national powerhouse is the most talented Buckeye team since the ’06 squad that reached the BCS Title Game. Adding a resurgent Nebraska program will be icing on the cake for a league already on a roll after last year’s strong bowl showing.