It’s foolish to sink too much stock in a conference’s quality based solely on its bowl performance. At the same time, it’s tough to ignore strong evidence mounting right in front of one’s eyes. Take the Big Ten’s 5-0 bowl record for example.
It’s not iron-clad proof that the Midwest is home to the best college football in the country. But it’s not nothing either. Clearly, the five Big Ten teams have been motivated in their glorified exhibitions and turned in strong performances.
Ohio State dominated USC in all facets last night, winning 24-7. Earlier in the day, Northwestern squeaked by Kentucky and the officials to secure a 24-23 victory. Previously, Michigan State obliterated Washington State while Iowa edged Boston College and Purdue used late dramatics to down Arizona.
Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan are all favored to win their upcoming bowls. An 8-0 record is certainly attainable. What would that mean?
Candidly, not a heck of a lot. Postseason conference performance narratives are easily forgotten and — outside of the bragging rights — there’s no big reward.
The major takeaway would be that the Big Ten’s depth is unmatched. The top of the SEC is clearly superior, but it can’t stack up Teams 1-8. The Big Ten East has four perennial contenders. Wisconsin makes five. Can the SEC say the same?
Public perception will always be that the SEC is superior and you know what? That’s not a knock on the Big Ten, nor should it cause any lamentation. There’s no shame in being second fiddle, pushing hard for first chair.
And that’s where I think the conference is, given its length.