The Big Ten college football bowl season is officially in the books. Yes, the Big Ten came up short in its bid to defend the national title won last year by Ohio State. But the conference had some memorable moments during its 5-5 postseason.
Playing vs. an SEC team is always a good measuring stick for a team. Even an SEC team that canned its head coach, as Mark Richt was fired and is now coaching Miami (FL). [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | BOX | PBP | AP RECAP ] These iconic programs last met in the Sugar Bowl after the 1982 season, when Penn State dumped Heisman winner Hershel Walker and the Bulldogs to win the national championship. The stakes weren’t nearly that high today in a clash that often resembled a taffy pull between teams that played good defense—and spotty offense. The
This time last year, Iowa was getting scortched by Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl to cap a disappointing 7-6 season that set in motion an offseason of tumult. Kirk Ferentz examined his program and made alterations, including switching practices from afternoon to morning. But most prescient, Ferentz tabbed C.J. Beathard the QB over Jake Rudock shortly after the loss to the Vols. Rudock transferred to Michigan, Beathard became a star and the rest is history. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] The Hawkeyes went on to post a season for the ages, going 12-0
Northwestern was looking to put an exclamation point on a standout 10-win season by dumping an SEC team. It didn’t happen for what has been one of the nation’s most surprising teams that opened 2015 with a win vs. Pac-12 champ Stanford. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] The Wildcats lacked the big-play ability on offense to keep pace vs. the athletic Volunteers, one of the SEC’s fast-rising programs under Butch Jones that closed the year with six wins in a row in what was the largest margin of victory in Outback Bowl history.
So many storylines dominated the Cotton Bowl matchup. Michigan State was making its first playoff appearance coming off a Big Ten title. Alabama was here last year, getting upset as the No. 1 seed by Ohio State, which went on to win the championship. Protégé (Mark Dantonio) was trying to beat mentor (Nick Saban). On it went. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | GALLERY | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] In the end, it was all Alabama, which cruised to a 38-0 victory at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. BEST OF THE COTTON BOWL Best play: There were none
BTN.com's Tom Dienhart talked to some assistant football coaches who took on Alabama this season to get an insider's scouting report on the Crimson Tide offense and defense ahead of Michigan State's game in the Cotton Bowl. Here's what those coaches told our senior writer.
When Michigan State takes on Alabama tonight, we'll all be watching closely. BTN.com's Tom Dienhart suggests we keep an eye out for these five keys the Spartans need to unlock the Crimson Tide and advance to the title game. You know this already, but none of them will come easily.
BTN.com's Tom Dienhart is watching every Big Ten bowl game, and on Wednesday night he rolled out his assessment of Wisconsin's impressive 23-21 win over No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl. See his grades and his overall take in this post.
Minnesota had lost seven bowls in a row, which tied Ball State for the longest active postseason losing skein. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] That drought is over with a methodical 21-14 win over Central Michigan. The last Gopher bowl victory was authored by BTN’s Glen Mason, whose 2004 squad beat Alabama in the Music City Bowl. Minnesota was one of three 5-7 teams in bowls. And, believe it or not, all three won their games. BEST OF QUICK LANE BOWL Best play: This one came complements of CMU freshman back Romello Ross,
Not all Big Ten conference schedules are created equally. And, that doesn’t make for a fair and level playing field when it comes to crowning a conference champion. But, no one said life is fair. Back before the conference expanded beyond 10 teams, the Big Ten had a nice cut-and-dried system that saw every school play twice—home and road. It was scheduling perfection. But as the league has grown, a round-robin schedule hasn’t been possible. Now, with a 14-team conference, Big Ten squads play five teams twice and eight teams once (four home; four road). And, depending on the rise