UW football: Big Ten had better chance of spinning bowl season had Badgers won

2011-01-05T14:49:00Z UW football: Big Ten had better chance of spinning bowl season had Badgers wonTom Mulhern | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

The Big Ten Conference is out with its spin on the New Year's Day massacre -- going 0-5 in bowl games on Jan. 1. (Hey, the Big Ten was 3-0 in non-New Year's Day bowls!!) It was the first time since 2002 the conference failed to win on New Year's Day.

Leave it to the league that gave us Legends and Leaders to find a positive way of looking at this bowl season.

The Big Ten's post-bowl notes lead off by telling us the Big Ten is 7-8 in bowl games over the last two seasons, including 3-1 in Bowl Championship Series games. (Guess who has the one loss?)

Six of those seven wins were over teams ranked among the top 15 in the BCS.

With a few bowls still to be played, the Big Ten has twice as many wins over top-15 BCS teams in the past two seasons as any other conference. In fact, all other conferences have combined to win six total bowls over BCS top-15 teams over the same time span.

You have to dig a bit to arrive at the Big Ten's 3-5 record for the current bowl season.

The release also states the Big Ten has won 11 BCS games, second-highest total among all conferences, following the SEC's 14. The Pac-10 has 10 wins, the Big 12 eight and the Big East six.

Also, because the Big Ten can't get over its inferiority complex with the SEC, it notes it has the longest active win streak of any conference with at least one bowl win over the SEC for the last nine years (huh?). The Big Ten is 12-13 against the SEC over the last nine seasons, compared to the ACC (7-9), Big 12 (4-13, one more this season) and Big East (2-1, one more this season).

Nothing wrong with trying to make yourself look good, although I suspect nobody around the country is buying this any better than the new division names.

Only Ohio State avoiding disaster following a blocked punt Tuesday night and holding on to beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl allowed the Big Ten to escape with a shred of its dignity.

The only thing wrong with the Big Ten's new bowl schedule, which includes a heavy does of Jan. 1 games, is the league better perform on the most traditional bowl day or the stench will overpower almost anything else.

Had the University of Wisconsin defeated Texas Christian in the Rose Bowl, it would have been a lot easier to sell a 4-4 bowl record as another positive step, especially since it would have included 2-0 in BCS games.

But no college football fans outside of the Midwest can spin Alabama, the fourth-place team in the SEC West, trouncing co-champion Michigan State 49-7; or Mississippi State giving Michigan the worst bowl loss in its history at 52-14; or a five-loss Florida team beating Penn State 37-24.

Those three losses to SEC teams were by a combined score of 138-45. That's going to linger in fans' minds longer than the 12-13 record against the SEC over the last nine years.

Even though TCU proved its legitimacy with its 21-19 win over the Badgers, the Horned Frogs were the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to play in the Rose Bowl.

Quite simply, the Big Ten needed the Badgers to win and they came up short.

The Big Ten's other wins were a depleted Iowa coming from behind to beat Missouri 27-24 and Illinois routing Baylor 38-14.

At least this was one way to take some of the criticism away from Legends and Leaders.


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