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The B1G Uglies - Bowl Edition
Darqueze Dennard

Posted Dec 20, 2013

Three writers that can’t quite agree on anything are ready to sling mud at one another once again. The topic? Big Ten bowl chatter. It’s time for Phil Harrison, Bart Doan, and Terry Johnson to solve the world’s problem one first down at a time in the heartland. It’s the B1G Uglies.

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(i) What’s the best bowl matchup including a Big Ten Team?

Phil Harrison

Let’s stop and smell the roses shall we? The setting itself at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains as the sun retires is like none other. Aside from that though, they’ll be playing a real-live football game with two teams that look to be carbon copies of one another.

In fact, if Jim Delany is still serious about expansion, maybe he should look at taking a team that models the Big Ten style in Stanford. That of course is tongue in cheek, but it’s true that the Cardinal plays more like the Michigan States, Ohio States, and Wisconsins than they do the Arizonas, USCs, and Arizona States of the Pac-12.

On the other sideline, Sparty has far exceeded expectations this year, and this game is sure to be a good ‘ole fashion slobberknocker like the days of yore. So buckle up, set the DVR, and watch this Picasso unfold out on the left coast.

Bart Doan

I agree that It’s gotta be that bare knuckle brawl out yonder in Pasadena … possibly the best game in that city this year, BCS MNC apologists be damned. Michigan State and Stanford are both throwback teams, relying on steady play calling and (aghast!) defense to win football games. Darqueze Dennard might be the best player in college football, and I’m not prone to hyperbole. He’s given up fewer yards per pass-to his coverage than anyone in the BCS era. There’s a stat to sleep on.

Really though, this is a great football game. Stanford has proven they can beat anyone, and Michigan State has been starved to be in this game for an awfully long time. There should be no shortage of effort and it’s a nod back to when football was more than five-wide and pass interference calls defining games. Both teams are top three in the country in rushing defense. Both are top 10 in scoring defense. If one can be had either way, it’s Stanford through the air. Ergo, Sparty On.

Terry Johnson

While the Granddaddy of Them All is clearly the best bowl game in Pasadena this postseason, I won't say that it's the best matchup involving a Big Ten team. That honor goes to Ohio State – Clemson since it's a little less predictable.

Unlike Michigan State – Stanford, which figures to be a rock'em, sock'em slugfest, no one really knows what to expect in the Orange Bowl. Although both offenses average over 40 points per game, it's also worth noting that the Buckeyes (21st) and Tigers (17th) rank in the Top 25 in scoring defense.

In other words, it could be a a 9-6, 3 OT, snore-a-thon or a MAC-tion style 66-63 shootout.

If I had to guess, I’d say this contest will be more like the latter. With future NFL QB's Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd under center, both offenses should have no trouble putting points on the board.

(ii) How will the Big Ten fare collectively in the bowls?


Grab your Parm Garlic Buffalo Wild Wings (extra wet), order some Roses for your wife using the Capital One VISA to cover for watching football for obscene hours the next two weeks, and then lay out your taxes to be slayed (reaching), and enjoy the B1G going 5-2 at worst in bowl games.

Ohio State - Clemson is a gross coaching mismatch and Clemson’s two losses were mostly non-competitive against teams that recruit on their level or better. Sparty will cut down and smoke the Tree. Michigan should benefit from the extra time off enough to let its talent flex its muscles against KSU, Iowa’s beating LSU, and Minnesota has a favorable matchup in Syracuse.

The rhetoric about the B1G being bad is mostly fodder for mouth breathers who can’t form opinions of their own without relying on biased national media to do it for them. It’d take actual thought to delve deeper. That said, I expect Georgia and South Carolina to win over Nebraska and Wisconsin respectively, and @FauxPelini should be a delightful follow this off season.


The Big Ten will fare well in the postseason. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see the conference finish 7-0 in bowl games this year.

At first glance, this might seem like a bit of a stretch. After all, the B1G is an underdog in four of its seven contests.

But a closer examination of these four games paints a different picture. Sure, Iowa and Nebraska aren't favored to win, but both of them will be playing against offenses that lost their starting QB late in the season. Even with the extra practice time, it's tough to see LSU and Georgia having the same type of offensive firepower that it did with Mettenberger and Murray under center.

In addition, Michigan has to like its chances against Kansas State. Remember, the Wildcats struggled this season against teams that could move the ball. Considering how well the Wolverines played against Ohio State (8-of-14 on 3rd down, 7.3 yards per play), it's not exactly a stretch to think that they could do the same thing to KSU.

That leaves just Michigan State as the lone team as the lone underdog. But the Spartans have thrived all season long by doing what all of the experts said could not be done. It's a shame they won't get a chance to play against Florida State for all the marbles…


I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but more of a Reality Ray here. Unlike my colleagues here, I don’t see the Big Ten doing a whole lot to impress folks during the bowl season. In the BCS games, I don’t like OSU’s chances to black-out the air-miles of Clemson, while Stanford can match the style of play that the Spartans will bring out West punch for punch.

Looking further down the docket, Iowa might get “out-athleted” (yes I make up words) against LSU despite a back-up QB under center for the Bayou Bengals, and then most of the other games could go either way. And we all know the conference won’t win all the “jump-ball” games out there.

Sadly, I think Big Ten fans won’t have much to gloat about when the New Year is over. I cross my fingers, eyes, and toes that I’m wrong, but if I was a betting man ...

(iii) Project the biggest surprise with the bowl games involving Big Ten teams.


I'll take Nebraska over Georgia as the most pleasant surprise of the postseason.

Let's be honest: this game has upset written all over it. From the moment that the pairings were announced, Bulldog fans started complaining that they had nothing to prove by playing the Huskers again. In their minds, the Dawgs deserved a better bowl.

That's usually when upsets happen. Just look at the Sugar Bowl, when “unmotivated” Alabama and Florida squads were whipped by Utah and Louisville, which both came into the game with something to prove.

Even if UGA comes into this contest ready for battle, I still like the Huskers to pull the upset. After all, Georgia's defense has struggled on the road this year, allowing a whopping 4.4 yards per carry. That hardly sounds like a unit that's capable of stopping Ameer Abdullah, who ran for 123 yards against the nation's top run defense.

Just remember that you heard it here first...


Tery makes a good call on Nebraska and Georgia, but I like the Michigan Wolverines to come out and absolutely dismantle Kansas State.

I really believe the Wolverines have underperformed this year, and I think the game against Ohio State showed everyone just how explosive the offense can be when Devin Gardner forgets to take his crazy pills and takes care of the ball.

I like the coaching staff to be creative like they were against the Buckeyes, the defense to be solid enough, and the offense to play with the kind of renewed purpose you get from hanging tons of yards on a solid squad. The roster just has too much talent to lay an egg again in my most humbe opinion.

Now if only the Maize and Blue could’ve put things together during the season when things counted much more.


I’m going with Iowa over LSU. I know, glue sniffing, paint chip eating, listening to Daughtry (probably the most damning of the insults) is how I came up with this, but I stand by it. Iowa is well-coached and routinely tough in bowl games in the Kirk Ferentz era, often hanging in games or winning games it’s a healthy underdogs in.

That said, look at Iowa’s losses this year. Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Those teams are a combined 45-4 when taking away losses against one another. How many teams are beating that bunch, and Iowa was in every game, not outclassed at all. While you look at LSU, who will be missing their senior QB, wasn’t overly impressive across the board this year, and mostly got the benefit of hanging around the assumed tough kids crowd (SEC) while not putting many pelts on the wall. Iowa gets this one, kids.

Follow Phil on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN, Bart @Bart_CFN, and Terry @TPJCollFootball

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