I have to listen to this claim almost constantly down here in SEC country. "They cant win the big one!!" is the chorus.
I used to smile, nod and dismiss (which I should probably continue to do) but I have become more prone to politely challenge that notion. One reason is that one can only stay quiet so long when listening to things you disagree with and another reason is, I believe outside of a couple teams the last decade, like Alabama, USC and possibly LSU, no team hasnt choked on some opportunities. So I set out to see just exactly how the Bucks have done in big games since 2002. Are they worse than most?
Now defining big game is first criteria. Here is how I defined big games 1) Games against nonconference opponents of note in regular season 2) Games played while you inhabit a number 1-4 BCS ranking where a loss removes your likely consideration for BCS title game 3) Games against arch rival 4) Bowl games
Going back to 2002 the Buckeyes have lost 11 games which can be considered big by the above criteria. They have also won 19 at the very least. I say at the very least because I only give the Buckeyes credit for 2 big wins n 2002, the Michigan game (my first ever seen at the Shoe!) and the Miami game. I cant remember exactly when the Bucks reached top 3-4 in BCS that year but a good argument could be made that each of the last 4 reg season games were big, but Im going to be generous to the critics and only count the last two.
In 2003 we lost to Wiscy ranked #1 and to Michigan when we might have been able to play ourselves back in with a win and some fortunate events the last weekend
In 2004 we had no big losses and just a rival win and bowl win
In 2005 we had the Texas loss and our rival and bowl wins. PSU may not meet above criteria cuz I dont know where we were ranked relative to everyone else at time, although it was big loss to us it didnt meet my above criteria for sure.
In 2006 we had Texas and rival win and the "Loss which should only be mentioned while gazing downward"
In 2007 we had the rival win and Illinois LSU losses
In 2008 we had rival win USC, Texas losses
In 2009 we had rival and bowl win and USC loss (that one still stings too!)
In 2010 we had rival, Miami, Iowa and Arkansas wins (screw you NCAA, I saw the game!) and the debacle in Madison while ranked #1
2012 I give us Wisc and rival. Wisconsin only because the only title we could play for was the division title and we needed that to win it
In 2013 we had rival win, Sparty loss and Clemson.....................
So 19-11 in big games by above criteria is not bad at all. Far from chokers I think the Bucks have won almost 2/3 of games with a lot on the line. I imagine that compares pretty well with anyone in CFB the last decade. Yes a couple of the L's are still stinging, but I can tell you how much UGA fans still hurt form losing to Florida in 2002 when they might have been the #2 BCS team and removed our chances and how much Bama fans still hate the come from ahead loss to Auburn (giving their arch rival a title game chance) and how hard Fla fans take Tebows loss his senior year to Bama in SEC title game.
Im proud of the Bucks when a lot is on the line, they usually rise up..... not wilt.