Shock is the only word that can be used to describe the mood around Big 10 country following a five-on-five competition with schools from below the Mason-Dixon Line on New Year's Day.
In the year 2010, the proud old conference made enormous steps forward by expansion. This leads to the development of divisional rivalries, producing a conference championship game in the near future.
In other good news for the conference, The Big 10 produced three BCS Title contenders who ended the regular season in the national top 10 rankings.
Add to the mixture the outstanding individual players in the league with an increased emphasis on team speed, and one can see why followers in the Great Lakes region were champing at the bit to prove they were equal with football teams from any other area of the country.
But all the joy ended by the time the sun set on Pasadena, Calif., to end the first day of 2011.
The Big 10 slid back down the national respectability ladder after going zero-for-five against competition from the South.
How did it all happen?
When the postseason selections were announced, the contest in the Rose Bowl appeared to stand out among all the other games for a variety of reasons.
Did the "Granddaddy of them all" live up to expectations?
You know it did.
The spectacular competition in Pasadena featured two conference champions who played nearly flawless ball with no turnovers in the game.
After 60 minutes of hard hitting, the final score read TCU 21, Wisconsin 19.
The deciding moment of the competition featured a spectacular effort from the Horned Frog defense to prevent the Badgers from executing a two-point conversion to tie the game at 21.
Wisconsin proved a formidable opponent and carried the banner of the Big 10 proudly, but even the gigantic Badgers could not bring down the undefeated men in purple from Fort Worth, Texas.
In view of such surroundings and performance, one is given to question why the Rose Bowl continues to pursue only schools from two specific conferences instead of having a host conference vs. a BCS selection like every other postseason game in the BCS.
The "pulling teeth' effort to put a non-automatic qualifier into Pasadena was met with rabid and frankly bizarre resistance from a limited few who appeared willing to accept TCU into a BCS contest but considered them an interloper to "their New Year's Day tradition."
This routine Rose Bowl mode of segregation by way of exclusivity has served only to alienate fans and followers from the vast majority of the nation and reeks of a sentiment that should no longer tolerated.
Texas is a state with vast football tradition, earned by many colleges throughout the old Republic.
With the Longhorns in Austin producing the sorriest season of this century, it is only right and fair the other proud institutions carry the banner for the Lone Star State.
Therefore it seems only proper the Horned Frogs of TCU and the Red Raiders of Texas Tech deserve the two great Texas state anthems of "Eyes" and "Yellow Rose" based upon this season's performance.
The Ticket City Bowl is played in the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. This inaugural contest featured Northwestern of the Big 10 vs. the pride of Lubbock, Texas Tech.
In another bitter bite from the New Year's Day apple of knowledge, the Wildcats from the outskirts of Chicago learned that coach Tommy Tuberville of the Red Raiders is not a man to be taken lightly when it comes to highly anticipated contests.
Leading 24-6 at half, the men from Lubbock waited to see what adjustments Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald would make and adapt on the fly in the third quarter.
The Wildcats fought their way back into the game, but not before giving up 552 yards of offense leading to a final score of 45-38 in favor of Texas Tech.
The Big 10 takes another fall.
The confidence level of the two Big 10 teams from the state of Michigan was high going into the New Year's Day Bowl games.
The Michigan State Spartans were tri-champions of the Big 10, lost only one game, and were ranked nationally among the top ten teams in the final regular season poll.
The Wolverines of Michigan featured a dynamic offense, led by outstanding quarterback Denard Robinson, and they would surely be focused to preserve head coach Rich Rodriguez's position at the helm in Ann Arbor.
From the Spartan standpoint, coach Mark Dantonio summed up the Capital One Bowl precisely when he stated afterwards "we were outplayed and outcoached."
Such comments are succinct and accurate when describing the 49-7 annihilation Alabama handed Michigan State in Orlando.
Michigan appeared even more inept than their peninsula-state brethren in a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, giving up 42 consecutive points along the way.
The maroon Bulldogs totally dominated the Wolverines in Jacksonville, leaving fans everywhere to wonder how long coaches Robinson and Rodriguez can continue to pull the wool over the eyes of administrators at an institution known for excellence.
It isn't often Penn State coach Joe Paterno loses a game after leading at halftime, but that is what happened in Tampa's Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
Florida, playing in coach Urban Meyer's final game, left the field trailing 17-14 at intermission.
In the second half, the ineffective passing game of Penn State finally caught up with them, resulting in five interceptions for the game.
The final score of 37-24 in favor of Florida had more to do with Nittany Lion turnovers than any Gator offensive efficiency, as seen by their 101 yards of passing and six punts.
It was not an awe-inspiring performance by the Gators. They trailed at the end of each of the first three quarters, and the Florida offense hardly left an impressive image going into the unknown world of a new coaching staff.
Still, for Gator head coach Urban Meyer, he seemed satisfied the long struggle to meet the challenges of the SEC was at last over for him.
It has been a tough road for Meyer, born two years before Joe Paterno became head coach at Penn State, as he has struggled with off-the-field issues concerning family and personal health during the last year and a half.
The word coming out of Columbus, Ohio suggests when coach Jim Tressel of the Buckeyes steps down, native son Urban Meyer will become the new Ohio State coach.
"If you can't lick 'em, hire 'em?"
During December, this writer issued the College Football Bowl Game Challenge on the Bleacher Report. Readers were asked to predict the results of all the bowl games.
A total of 28 of the 35 bowl games are in the book as of Jan. 2, and so a primer on how the competition among prognosticators is developing seems in order.
With seven contests remaining, only four games separate the top from the bottom in the loss column. The results at this point reveal the following:
Others include Donnie at 4-1 (who is still angry over Missouri losing), Ted at 3-1 (Need to believe in West Point, Teddy Boy), Whistler 2-1 (who said Wisconsin would win by one or lose by two points!), and big Doug at 4-0.
I suppose it helps to do your thinking with a chainsaw.
More updates as the bowl season continues, including those who made only BCS Game predictions.
A big thank you to all who participated and a big cheer for young April and her TCU Horned Frogs.