Another multiple touchdown win by the Buckeyes and another drop in the polls. This is the 2013 college football season for the Scarlet and Gray in a nutshell.
Currently the Bucks sit at No. 4 in the AP, losing one spot to Baylor who jumped them with their win over Texas Tech (despite tallying a nearly identical final result). Luckily for Buckeye Nation, the AP Poll is not factored into the BCS equation. In the far more important Coaches Poll, the Buckeyes maintained their No. 3 ranking. Helping them keep a No. 3 ranking in the BCS, if only by .001.
With that said, the Coaches Poll reveals a lot about the perception of the Big Ten relative to other conferences. You see these coaches who are getting paid millions of dollars to coach are spending their time coaching during the week and of course also coaching on Saturday. They don’t get a chance to see many other teams play. Instead they rely on final scores, national media perception and any football they were able to watch during their bye week to aid in penciling in their top 25.
Unfortunately the B1G is the inevitable loser in this equation, and it’s not just the Buckeyes who should be feeling scorned. Teams like Michigan State are also victims of the “B1G Blows” national narrative. So come on…follow me on a painful yet necessary journey down Bias Lane. It’s the third street on the left, just past Antiquated Algorithms Avenue.
Michigan State is a really good football team. The 9-1 Spartans only loss came against a 7-3 Notre Dame squad. Currently the Green and White have the nation’s No. 1 defense giving up just 228 yards per game and only 13.2 points. That’s about as stifling as a unit can get.
Yet a trio of two-loss teams sit ahead of the Spartans in the BCS Poll (8-2 Texas A&M, 8-2 South Carolina, and 8-2 Stanford).
A not-so-hard look at the facts reveals Texas A&M is the only squad (potentially) worthy of being placed above MSU. Their two losses came at the hands of #1 Alabama and a surging #7 Auburn. Those are high-quality L's. But, how South Carolina and Stanford are ranked above the Spartans is another mystery altogether, and certainly one worth delving into.
As aforementioned, Michigan State has one loss against a 7-3 Notre Dame team. The 4-point loss came in September and the Spartans have reeled off six straight wins since that misstep. No. 9 Stanford lost two days ago against a then unranked USC team. Before that, they lost to 4-6 Utah. Both of these losses occurred after Michigan State’s loss to the Fighting Irish. The argument could have been made pre-USC that Michigan State deserved to be ranked above the Cardinal. Of course that line-of-thinking was rebuffed by their win against then #3 Oregon. Somehow that win continues to resonate despite two losses to unranked teams. There is no excuse now, Stanford should have fallen behind Michigan State.
No. 11 South Carolina is an even bigger mystery. Their first loss came against a healthy Georgia, (that’s understandable). But, their second came against a terrible Tennessee team currently sitting at 4-6. The Volunteers are the Northwestern or Indiana of the SEC and the Gamecocks lost to them less than a month ago, yet this team is ranked above Michigan State. How? Pre-season rankings certainly have something to do with it, but the real answer is perception. A win in the SEC is somehow worth more, even when those wins come against horrendously bad teams. South Carolina just squeaked by a 4-6 Gators squad at home and gained a spot in the Coaches Poll. That’s really all you need to know.
So the media continues it’s slow drag of the B1G through the mud, while the SEC and Pac-12 can do no wrong (even when they do wrong twice like South Carolina and Stanford). The narrative has spun so violently out of control that commentators like Kirk Herbstreit are tweeting the following:
How you can watch teams like UM, Neb, and PSU, teams that are suppose to be bell cows w/ OSU, & think the B1G is a tough conf is beyond me!!
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) November 10, 2013
While blatantly ignoring the fact that other “bell cows” have stepped in to fill the shoes of the underperforming programs.
MSU is legit. Wisconsin might be even better. The Badgers currently have the nations #12 offense, the country’s #6 defense and rank in the top ten in terms of overall rushing yards at No. 6 in the nation. Wisconsin’s two losses have come against an undefeated Buckeye team and against No. 22 Arizona State, currently 8-2. Of course, the loss against the Sun Devils was a sham in which the Pac-12 all but admitted the refs cost the Badgers the game. If that game is officiated correctly, the Badgers are also a 9-1 team.
Just imagine life without that blown call and an objective view of college football. The B1G would (and should) have three teams in the top 10. That’s more than the ACC, Pac-12 Big 12 and ties the mighty SEC.
Of course that’s just a hypothetical based on statistics and facts so what do I know. The reality is to change this perception the Buckeyes, Spartans, Badgers and the rest of the B1G must go out and win their bowl games. There is no longer any reverence given to in-conference wins.
Bowl-games are where the “B1G blows” narrative started, and it’s where it must end. There’s no denying the B1G (with the exception of Ohio State) has under-performed in recent bowls, and those games are when the greatest sum of eyeballs are trained on your team.
There’s still plenty of football left but it’s safe to say the Buckeyes aren’t the only ones in the B1G left on the outside looking in. The Scarlet and Gray can’t alter the narrative alone. They’ll need the help of the conference’s new “bell-cows” to help change the perception.