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The Big Ten Is Not Dead.

Almost a decade ago, for sale the Big Ten was run off the road by a big-ass 4×4 with a huge Confederate flag flying off of it, buy viagra an “American by Birth, Southern By The Grace of God” bumper sticker and some dirty jorts in the glove box.  They were shot in the face and left for dead in a ditch.  People still talked about them, but not in a way that expressed that they would ever pull through that incident.

Ironically, it was the night that Urban Meyer himself as head coach of Florida shockingly crushed #1 Ohio State in 2007 in the National Championship Game.  That’s when it all started – the overindulgent and overdone SEC hype, the chant that feels like you’re trapped in a pit of fire ants every time you are subjected to it, the taglines like “Speed Kills” that make you roll your eyes til they feel like they won’t ever roll back, and the absurdity that if a team in your conference is really good, then the rest of your conference is great too.

Ummmm, no.

Doesn’t the South get that the first rule of sports fandom is if you can’t root for your team, the next best thing is to root against your enemies?  If That Team Up North were in Ohio State’s position right now, you wouldn’t hear Buckeye Nation chanting “Go Blue” and claiming conference superiority because of it.  (Okay, I did yell that a few times during the game when Lloyd Carr beat Urban’s Gators in the Capitol One Bowl in his last game as head coach of U of M.  The OSU wound was really fresh, only a year, I couldn’t help it.  I still feel dirty.)

But pull through the conference did.  And who better to pull OSU out of the ditch than the man who pretty much put them there?  Urban, baby.  Sparty and Wisky proved their pulses are kicking as hard as the bass at a Dr. Dre show.  The Big Ten is a good conference, certainly not ranked 5th in the five power conferences like some idiots put them.  And they’re probably going to be even better next year.

So here, kids, are just a few of the reasons why the Big Ten is not dead.  Why we fans and just about every pundit out there – maybe even smarmy, clueless sh-thead Mark May – can and has said so in early January.  Because those damn facts really do always tend to get in the way.

 

Ohio State

Where does anyone even start with the most incredible season that even Hollywood probably couldn’t make up???  (A starting lineup of freshmen and sophomores, the loss of the star QB two weeks before the season, a back-up QB starting, a defeat at the hands of an abysmal team by week 2, dropping as low as #23 in the polls, having your death certificate publicly signed by major sports pundits….but making the playoffs with your back-up back-up QB and now the National Championship Game.  Sure sounds more like a tinsel town script.)

Yes, let’s start with that – Ohio State is in the National Championship Game.  Earned in the most incredible way with perhaps the best head coach in all of CFB.

And one of the steps they took to get there was by beating ‘Bama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.  BAMA!!!  The King of the SEC and pretty much all of CFB lost to THE Ohio State University.  Yes, we did Roll you, Tide.  Personally, no other win has ever felt this good, I can’t get past the high of it to even think about what beating Oregon will feel like.  (Yet.)  I mean these are bragging rights of the highest kind, for infinity.

The Buckeyes got to personally hand the mighty SEC their FIFTH bowl loss.  Four of those losses were in the SEC West.  You know, that division everyone kept saying every day, all season, was the strongest and best division in the country?  And two of those losses were to Big Ten teams – Alabama to OSU and Auburn to Wisconsin.  (Yes!!!)  Ole Miss was decimated in the Peach Bowl and Mississippi State lost by 15 in the Orange Bowl.  Yeah, you strong.

A record 28 million viewers watched Ohio State take down the dynasty that was Alabama.  Ohio State made them just another elite team.  In the inaugural season of the CFB Playoffs, Ohio State made sure that for the first time in almost a decade the SEC wasn’t playing in it.  Damn, it feels good to be a Buckeye.

‘Bama was a 9-point favorite.  ‘Bama boasted the #1 run defense – not a single rusher had gained more than 83 yards on them all season.  Yet OSU RB Ezekiel Elliott took 230 yards from them on 20 carries.  One of those being an 85-yard touchdown run.  It was a career-high and a Sugar Bowl record.

‘Bama’s Amari Cooper – maybe the best wide receiver in CFB – was held to just 71 receiving yards.  It was his 3rd worst performance after setting team & SEC records this season.

Alabama gave up 537 yards of offense.  They went 2 for 13 on third downs, while OSU went 10 for 18.  They turned the ball over three times.  The reason Alabama was leading in the first half was thanks to Ohio State’s own mistakes, not because the Crimson Tide were a better team.  Despite being pinned in their own 20-yard line five times by Alabama’s kicker, Ohio State outscored them.

QB Cardale Jones did not disappoint – 18 of 35 for 243 yards passing, 43 rushing and a touchdown.  I don’t think you can call him third-string anymore, people.  As the ‘Bama vlogger LawTide423 (who spent all his time leading up to the game bashing OSU in selfie-videos) said about Ohio State post-game, “the back-up QB is a straight-up baller!”

Let’s point out, Jones’ first ever career start was against Wisconsin for the Big Ten Title game.  His second start was Ala-friggin-bama in the first college playoffs.  His third start ever will be in the National Championship Game against Oregon.  And the guy has never looked anything but cool and confident.  Now, can ya three-peat Cardale?  (My money is on yesssssir.)

Easy E on his 85-yard run

Easy E on his 85-yard run

The game MVP’s were RB Elliott and LB Darron Lee.  Named Players of the Week were WR Evan Spencer, WR Corey Smith and Safety Vonn Bell.  Shout-outs have to go to defensive end Steve Miller for his interception for a touchdown, and defensive back Tyvis Powell who caught the final Blake Sims pass by Alabama to win the game.  Just like he did at the Big House.

A few of the best quotes on the Buckeyes toppling ‘Bama:

“A team that snuck in conquered the sport’s tallest, widest and strongest giant with a quarterback who hasn’t yet started in his first regular season game.” – Cleveland.com

“{The SEC was} rendered limbless over the course of the bowl season and then decapitated on the first day of 2015.” – Bleacher Report

“The Alabama dynasty is dead.  And unless something changes soon, the SEC dynastywill quickly follow it to the grave.” – Team Speed Kills

Yes, please.  GO BUCKS!

 

Wisconsin

You know who Wisconsin beat – Auburn.  Of the SEC West.  Badgers!!  Wisky’s star running back Melvin Gordon ran all over that overrated SEC team for an Outback record of 251 yards and three TDs.  He also joined the Hall of Famer and Central Florida’s Kevin Smith as the only players to rush for at least 2,000 yards while also scoring 30 touchdowns in the same season.

Athletic Director and former head coach Barry Alavarez coached Wisky in the Outback Bowl in absence of a current head coach, claiming it’s his last time.  Now you know Barry is no dummy and will make a great hire that keeps Wisconsin the powerhouse they are.

 

Michigan State

Mark Dantonio has led the Spartans to dominance for a while now, and this Will. Not. Change.  Regardless of the loss of Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who has been responsible for one of the best defenses in the country with MSU and had them ranked at the #1 defense for most of this season, Sparty will continue to dominate the field of play.  They’re laden with talent.  They’ve had four straight bowl wins and remain a powerhouse of the Big Ten.

Did you see their amazing comeback in the bowl game against Baylor?  Down by 20 points, they rallied back to shock Baylor for the win in MSU’s biggest comeback.  Did you see the “Monster Left?”  The amazing field-goal blocking play with about 1:15 left in the game?  Perhaps one the best highlights from bowl season, WR Tony Lippett was a missile into Baylor kicker Chris Callahan with a brutal hit.  Boy needed a nap after getting his bell rung like that.  Callahan actually had to tweet that yes, he was alive.   If you haven’t seen it, google it.

Sparty, you rocked.

 

Michigan and Jim Harbaugh

I, along with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, and hundreds of radio, tv and online pundits, was wrong about Harbaugh not coming to Michigan.  The Wolverines ecstatically announced that Jim Harbaugh – Michigan grad and 1986 Big Ten Player of the Year, first round NFL draft pick in 1987, and former head coach of Stanford University Football and the San Francisco 49ers – has accepted their head coach position.  Which is not just great news for the now irrelevant and desperate U of M program, but also for the entire B1G.

Don’t fool yourself Blue, the rest of us aren’t quaking in our boots.  We are happy and thankful that you will be back.  Whether we want to or not, we can’t quit you.  And we need you to be great again, not a punchline.  Michigan finally made a really good hire, and Harbaugh will not only get their program and the conference, he’ll help raise it to a higher level.

Now before you continue your theory of infinite domination, Blue, remember one fact.  Harbaugh was revered for how he turned Stanford around.  And he did.  And it was impressive.

But his career record with the Cardinal?  29-21.

Just remember that as you continue on your Smack Talk Tour.  Harbaugh will get it done.  But let’s wait on the braggadocio til you have something to hang Bo’s hat on.  Until then, the B1G is thrilled and can’t wait to have you back as a contender.

Natural order will be restored, and the conference will take its rightful place again in 2015.

So, dead?  Fifth place?  Not so fast, my friends.  The Big Ten is alive and well and silencing SEC nutjobs everywhere.  And if the Buckeyes win the National Championship?  Suck it, haters.

Go Big Ten and Go Bucks!

Category: NCAA

About the author: Kristin Conrad is a college football-loving graduate of Ohio State – she bleeds Scarlet & Gray and considers the Varsity Club hallowed ground. A PR pro who just moved back to Columbus from Manhattan Beach, Chicago and NYC, she’s been happy to find that some of her favorite friends ever are from schools she used to hate and that nothing brings people together like sports does.

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