The demise of the Big Ten in bowl games is nothing new. This year the conference has put up a record of 1-5, with only heavy underdog Ohio State left to play Texas tonight. Some stats in the Trib sum it up pretty well.
The Big Ten's drought has reached nearly biblical proportions. Or so it seems. The league is 1-5 this bowl season, 9-19 over the last four years and has lost five consecutive Bowl Championship Series games.
Performances from Big Ten teams have ranged from slightly respectable to downright embarrassing thus far in the bowl season. Iowa has the lone win against South Carolina, and Northwestern brought Missouri to the brink. Even Penn State made a nice comeback against USC and had a chance to cut the lead to seven late. Wisconsin and Minnesota were blown out by mediocre opponents and Michigan State did nothing good against Georgia, despite the Bulldogs' best efforts to give the game to the Spartans.
So a loss by Ohio State tonight pretty much makes it rock bottom for the Big Ten, one would think. However, as fun as it is to pile on the Big Ten, some national media and fans should consider a couple of things.
Every conference has some down years. Remember when the Big 12 was simply a bunch of bad teams hoping to keep it close against Nebraska? Or when the SEC Championship games were nearly unwatchable, when teams like Arkansas would sneak in without beating anyone all season? The Pac-10 isn't immune either. Pre-Carroll, USC was awful for a while and the conference didn't have many elite teams stepping up to take their place.
Also, keep in mind that nearly every bowl game a Big Ten team plays in is a road game. This season wasn't even a bad year for this and there are a couple perfect examples. Michigan State had to play Georgia in the Citrus Bowl, which is a hell of a trip for Spartan fans and a nice drive for the other 90% of the people that were in attendance. And there is always the classic Rose Bowl match-up between a Big Ten team and USC, where the Trojans have to travel 12 miles.
Last season the Big Ten played "away" games in the Citrus, Outback, Rose, Alamo, and even the National Championship against LSU in New Orleans. Even in the Motor City Bowl, there were more CMU fans than Purdue fans.
Anyway, road games shouldn't make you 9-19 in four seasons, so the Big Ten has some work to do, but for those that think they should be left out of the Rose Bowl, I wish to fight you.