Get me some visine. My vision must be blurry. I thought I just saw two Big Ten teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS Standings — and both teams are well deserving of it. Really? This is happening?
Well, let me check this again… Yup. It’s still there. Make a mental note of this Big Ten football fans. This is what good football looks like.
It looks like the Ohio State Buckeyes, jumping up and down in celebration after defeating rival Michigan 42-41, securing the program’s second consecutive 12-0 regular season.
It looks like the Michigan State Spartans, completing a perfect 8-0 record in Big Ten play, while sporting one of the most dominant defenses that college football has seen in recent memory.
It looks like this: Two exceptional college football teams, the Spartans and the Buckeyes, doing what the Big Ten conference prides itself on– Winning football games and playing for championships.
“I think it’s great for our conference,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of the two programs success this season. “The Big Ten should be doing this, and I believe it will continue to do so from here on out.”
There are numerous intriguing story lines heading into the Big Ten Championship Game — A dominant defense vs. a dominant offense, two exceptional running backs, two great coaches with a pedigree for winning big games. You could even note that MSU coach Mark Dantonio has coaching ties to Ohio State, where he served as the defensive coordinator during the Buckeyes’ 2002 National Championship season.
But here’s what we should be zeroing in on: A Big Ten Championship Game that features undoubtedly the top two teams in the conference. No questions asked.
It is a game that has not only major BCS Bowl implications, but National Championship implications as well.
It is possible that this year’s BCS National Championship Game may not feature a team from the SEC. That may be hard for SEC fans to swallow, but it’s the truth of the matter. And the reason for that isn’t because the SEC has been down this year– it is still an exceptional college football conference. The reason is because the top of the Big Ten has also been exceptional.
It has been 11 years since a Big Ten team has won a BCS National Championship. It has been three years since the Big Ten won a Rose Bowl, which was the lone Rose Bowl victory over the past 13 years.
This season, the Big Ten has a chance to do both. A good chance at that.
“It’s very exciting,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “There’s obviously a buzz throughout the Big Ten and nationally about these two teams and this game.”
The Big Ten has had plenty of dominant teams over the past century. Four of the top 20 winningest programs in college football history reside in the conference– Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. We have seen both National Championship and Rose Bowl victories. But it hasn’t been the norm as of late. It’s a refreshing sight to see for Big Ten fans.
Two great teams. Two great coaches. One great conference Championship game ahead. Think twice before we criticize the legitimacy of this conference. It may be more fair to recall the Big Ten not for how it has shrunk, but for how it has grown.
And it all starts with these two teams that will take on field on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
|About Sean Merriman||BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men’s basketball and provides original content for BTN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.|