Eric Francis/Getty Images
My fellow Big Ten fans, we have long known that our conference is a strong one. We've long understood that there are few places in America where a balanced offense and strong defense can still come together so beautifully and successfully as it does here in the Big Ten.
Our adversaries will point to our failures in certain bowl years and against certain bowl opponents. I say, let them have their moment of glory. Let them hang their hopes on the victories of the past. They have earned them and they deserve the right to their pride.
However, this season has demonstrated better than perhaps any year in recent memory, that the Big Ten is relevant, the Big Ten is strong, and the Big Ten is getting even better!
We recognize that Minnesota has fallen and will take some time to get back up. We recognize that Purdue is dealing with injuries that may have sidelined a season worthy of respect.
Those things aside, I remind you of the following:
Illinois has surpassed expectations by putting together a solid defense and an offense that is arguably more balanced than during the Juice Williams era.
Michigan State erupted onto the national scene with a fantastic 8-0 and looks to potentially end their campaign with only the one loss.
Michigan continues to improve (at least on offense) and should be back in the bowl hunt this year.
Indiana still has a lot of work to do, but they have put together a pass attack that has to be respected and maintains the potential of upsetting anyone that takes them too lightly.
Northwestern has found a new leader in Dan Persa and may have found a strong complement in RB Mike Trumpy. They will continue to be a thorn in the sides of teams that fail to recognize their ability and motivation.
Penn State may be down this year, but they maintain the kind of recruiting classes and the kind of coaching stability that will ensure their return to prominence as early as next year.
Wisconsin has inserted themselves as a national power that must be taken seriously. Dating back to their bowl game last year, they have taken care of all but one opponent, and look likely to continue their winning ways with new tools emerging daily.
Iowa has shown greater depth than many believed they had, and have shown yet again that they are a true national power. They are in the conference title race and could find themselves mentioned in the national discussion in years to come.
Finally, Ohio State is still Ohio State. With tremendous talent all over the field, a coach that patiently build his program into one successful season after another, and a fan base that won't let the nation forget that they're the Ohio State University, this team will again represent the conference well wherever they go and whomever they contest.
Put all of the pieces together. See the improvements of teams like Illinois and Michigan State. Add in the continued success of teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State. What you have is a very strong conference.
The future is bright for the Big Ten. As we warmly welcome Nebraska to the fold following this season, we fail to lose sight of the fact that our conference is relevant right now.
Saturdays bless you, bowl selections bless the Big Ten and HAPPY BOWL HUNTING!