If there's anything college football fans have learned about the Big Ten this year, it's that, as deep as the league may be, none of its top teams are or should be considered threats to contend for the BCS national championship.
The Legends Division, in particular, has become a bit of a mess of late, with No. 10 Nebraska, No. 15 Michigan and No. 17 Michigan State all refusing to take control of their respective destinies on the way to the inaugural Big Ten championship game and leaving the door open for Iowa to sneak its way to the top in the process.
The Hawkeyes did plenty of work to clear the walkway on Saturday by upending the Wolverines at Kinnick Stadium, 24-16. The Iowa defense had little trouble containing Denard "Shoelace" Robinson, who became untied by completing just 17-of-37 pass attempts for 194 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, along with another costly fumble.
Neither team played particularly well on offense, though the onus was on Brady Hoke's bunch to get the job done to keep the Maize and Blue on the road to Indianapolis.
That path appears much more treacherous now that the Wolverines have dropped a second conference game, putting them behind Great Lakes rival Michigan State, to whom they suffered their first loss in mid-October.
The Spartans have looked rather shaky themselves of late, returning to the winning track on Saturday with a closer-than-it-should've-been 31-24 victory over conference bottomfeeder Minnesota. Sparty's defense struggled to contain Golden Gophers quarterback Marqueis Gray, who tormented the team on the ground (71 yards rushing) and through the air (295 yards and three touchdowns passing).
Then again, the Spartans could hardly complain about the result, not after the 24-3 drubbing they suffered against Nebraska in Lincoln last time out, just a week after shocking Wisconsin on the final play in East Lansing.
Speaking of Nebraska, the Cornhuskers didn't seem to care much for the limelight in the Big Ten, "choosing" instead to fumble away a shocker to Northwestern at home, 28-25. Where once the Huskers had been a dark horse for the BCS title game, now they find themselves in the same position as, well, everyone else in their league who'd had any hope of playing for the crystal football at any point this season.
That is to say, downtrodden and disappointed.
Not that Nebraska, Michigan State or Michigan could really compete with Alabama or LSU or would even want to subject themselves to the humiliation that could inevitably come with such a matchup.
Perhaps, then, it's best to let the "big boys" of the Big Ten fight amongst themselves while the rest of college football spends its time sorting out who truly is the best of the best.