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
Nebraska was one of three teams in the postseason with a 5-7 record. UCLA also arrived in the Foster Farm’s Bowl slumping, losing two of its last three after looking like a contender in the Pac-12 South. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] But it was the Huskers who got to end 2015 on an up note, scoring 30 consecutive points after trailing 21-7. The victory still didn’t give Nebraska a winning mark, as it finished with a 6-7 record–its first losing mark since 2007. The win also gives the program some much-needed
The first Big Ten bowl was a doozie, as Duke took a 44-41 overtime win vs. Indiana in a Pinstripe Bowl that featured eight lead changes. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | GALLERY | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] It was the Blue Devils’ first postseason win since a Cotton Bowl triumph after the 1960 season, ending a five-bowl skid. The Hoosiers have now lost three bowls in a row, last winning the Copper Bowl in 1991. Indiana finishes 6-7 and still has not had a winning season since 1994. BEST OF PINSTRIPE BOWL Best play: There were some
Usually, a nine-win season is cause for celebration. But Wisconsin was tabbed by most to win the Big Ten West. Instead, the Badgers finished second in Paul Chryst’s debut as head coach. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Wisconsin’s defense did its part all season, ranking No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring (13.1 ppg) and No. 1 overall (267.1 ypg) under standout coordinator Dave Aranda. But the offense struggled
The 2015 campaign was filled with tumult for Rutgers. In August, it was revealed that Kyle Flood had improper contact with a professor concerning the course work of a player. He subsequently was suspended for three games after an investigation. Flood also came under fire after several players ran afoul of the law. In all, six players were dismissed from the team after a string of arrests. Even star WR Leontee Carroo missed time after an arrest. On the field, RU was done in by spotty quarterback play, an offensive line that lacked consistency and a defense that ranked No.
Saturdays in the fall in West Lafayette are long, as Darrell Hazell can’t seem to flip a losing script. He now stands 6-30 in three seasons. And three of those victories have been vs. FCS programs. How many Big Ten wins does Hazell have? Two, against 22 losses. And the defeats are often lopsided. Is progress being made? Are players being developed after they arrive? There is a lack of dynamic playmakers across the board. And then there is the quarterback position where Hazell has switched signal-callers during the season each of his three years. Purdue is desperate for stability under center.
Penn State remains a work in progress, but James Franklin continues to make progress in his second season. He has the program in a bowl for a second season in a row. But personnel shortcomings are apparent as the effects of probation are still being felt from a depth standpoint. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] The offensive line remains an issue, as the front is unable to get a consistent
As the defending national champion, Ohio State entered 2015 with a big target on its back. Adding to the pressure was a unanimous preseason No. 1 ranking. The Buckeyes were the hunted. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] How would they respond in Urban Meyer’s fourth season in Columbus? Pretty well. OSU ripped off win after win en route to starting 10-0 vs. a schedule that was less than impressive before