Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 28, 2013

Got a case of the ?football blues? with basketball season in full-tilt mode? If so, than chew on this piece from Athlon Sports that picks the 12 best Big Ten teams of the BCS era. Or, if you prefer, the 12 best Big Ten teams since 1998. As you would suspect, Ohio State is well-represented with half of the countdown being Buckeye squads: 2002 (No. 1); 1998 (No. 2); 2006 (No. 4); 2012 (No. 5); 2007 (No. 7); 2010 (No. 12).

Hard to argue that. The 2002 squad won the national title, while the 2006 and 2007 teams played for national titles. But I think the 1998 team was better than those three with Andy Katzenmoyer, David Boston, Ryan Pickett and Joe Germaine, among others. Just loaded. Alas, that loss to Nick Saban and Michigan State still haunts.

[ RELATED: Watch the full episode of "Big Ten Elite: Ohio State 2002" on BTN2Go. ]

Wisconsin has three teams on this list, 1998 (No. 6), 2011 (No. 8) and 1999 (No. 11). Hmm, I know the 2011 team had three losses, but I think it was better than the 1998 Badgers. Russell Wilson is the difference.

Penn State (2005, No. 3); Michigan (2006, No. 9) and Iowa (2002, No. 10) each has one team on this list. I guess I am most stunned that the Wolverines have just one team on this list. It shows you how far the program fell over that period. But, Brady Hoke has things pointed up.

Would any Nebraska teams from 1998 to present have made this list? Sure. Frank Solich?s 2001 team that finished 11-2 and played (and lost) to Miami (Fla.) in the Rose Bowl for the national championship would have made it. And the 1999 Nebraska team also would deserve merit after going 12-1 and winning the Fiesta Bowl.

Here's how I would rank 'em.

1. Ohio State 1998
2. Ohio State 2002
3. Ohio State 2006
4. Penn State 2005
5. Ohio State 2007
6. Michigan 2006
7. Wisconsin 2011
8. Wisconsin 1998
9. Iowa 2002
10. Ohio State 2012
11. Wisconsin 1999
12. Ohio State 2010

If I included Nebraska, I would put the 2001 team No. 7 and the 1999 team No. 10. What do you think?


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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