For the past two years, the Big Ten's image has been under attack by fans of the SEC and Big 12 for its past BCS title game blunders.
Two straight butt-whoopings of Ohio State by SEC teams in the title game have people all over the country thinking so little of the conference. Why Big 12 people have gotten into this argument is beyond me. If I remember correctly, the last two years, Oklahoma has been destroyed by West Virginia and a non-BCS school.
Back to the Big Ten. For the conference to regain its image—not just Ohio State, because all the teams have been suffering due to the Buckeyes' losses—Penn State needs to win, Ohio State needs to win, and Michigan State needs to win.
For the first time since the inception of the BCS, every team from one conference will enter their bowl games as underdogs.
This sets up very well for the conference to regain its place again as one of the major conferences in college football. I'm not saying they're going to do it, but if they do, they will regain most of the credit lost by the Buckeyes.
For Penn State, the Nittany Lions have the task of beating the "real national champions," as stated by all of ESPN. Ohio State has the task of beating the best, second-best, or third-best team in the Big 12, depending upon where get your info.
Michigan State plays Georgia, the preseason No. 1. To people in the SEC, a 35-point Bulldog win is already in the bag.
Sounds like Mount Everest to most, right? But to the Big Ten, all year and all the time between the bowl games, they have had to hear how inferior they are to the rest of the country.
That may have caused a giant chip on the shoulders of teams like Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State.
For the Big Ten not being favored in any bowl game, a wining record will be a major accomplishment. We shall see—this is a good lesson to other conferences like the Big 12, which may be next. It's had its chances, and if Florida and Ohio State each win, it may be the next looking to rebuild its image.