The 2013 B1G Championship game in Indianapolis Saturday night will change national media perceptions of the B1G conference. A meeting between two extremely strong teams, it will show that the league isn't quite as down as people say it is.
This B1G Championship game is better than 90% of the bowl games out there. It's a better match-up on paper than about half of the BCS games you end up with. Both participants in the 2013 B1G Championship would likely handle back-to-back BCS bound Northern Illinois in a head-to-head match-up.
You have national college football implications on the line in Lucas Oil Field.
BCS National title hopes and Rose Bowl determination is at stake. So as much flak and critique as the B1G receives, and it’s very well deserved at times, you can’t ask for a bigger and better B1G Championship game than #2 Ohio State vs #10 Michigan State.
And really how weak is the B1G?
Yes, it’s far below the SEC. And the league looked terrible in the head to head match-ups with the Pac 12 in September, but I still say the league is very much on par with the ACC or Big 12. It’s not that bad.
And this title game is like Ron Burgundy, "kind of a big deal." So let's look at why the B1G gets kicked around by the national media, and how the 2013 B1G Championship game could change that.
The idea of the Big Ten being weak starts with New Year's Day.
Most of the major bowl games are still on this day, and they all happen within a few hours of each other. Unfortunately for the B1G, they have been getting WHOOPED in these games; usually by the SEC and Pac 12. And all at the same time. You don't want me to bring up the Rose Bowl losing streak. Nor do you want to hear the Big Ten's record versus the SEC in the major bowl games. This is why both local and national pundits deride the league.
However, consider this: the B1G plays an unfair and disproportionate number of their bowl games in their opponent's home state. Often in their opponent's metro area. Being a cold weather league, it's just what happens. And I know, no one cares about the fourth and fifth tier bowl games, nor should they care, but the league performs quite well in these games.
Also, the Big Ten did not do much to earn a better reputation this year in the non-conference schedule. The league's marquee non-con win?
Achieved by Tim Beckman and the Illini!!
I'm not joking. They beat 9-3 Cincinnati 45-17 in week two. Cincy not only played, but took a 4th quarter lead into their conference championship game tonight.
There is a way for the B1G to improve their lot in college football life, and journalist Ed Cmar has a great essay on what's wrong and how to fix it. He's also an Ohio State grad, so trust me, he would know the true way forward.
Here's an excerpt:
In short, cheer and hope that all of the B1G teams do well against their opponents, particularly those name conferences and its teams, in non-conference games and in bowl games, particularly those BCS bowl games they are invited to. Don’t wish ill for other B1G teams when they land one of the top recruiting classes. Hope that B1G teams win every possible game – except when they play your team, of course.
When all of the B1G conference teams win, the conference itself wins.
So, B1G conference nation: quit living in the past and get with the times.
Now, about scheduling tougher non-conference opponents?
Ah, one thing at a time, I suppose.
In a bizarre quirk, explained here, Michigan State will head to the Rose Bowl whether they win or lose the B1G Championship. I guess it's fitting, as we have a weird paradox like that occurring in the last few days of the BCS. Since its inception in 1998, the BCS has operated completely devoid of logic, reason or fairness. So it makes sense that the BCS ends with something ridiculously illogical, unreasonable and unfair.
ESPN College GameDay, the iconic college football pregame show, will make its final regular-season stop from the site of the B1G Championship game, so what does that tell you? They choose the B1G Championship game over the SEC and Pac12 counterparts.
The Pac 12 has a great game, #7 Stanford vs #11 Arizona State, but it's nowhere as good as the B1G Championship game. The ACC title game has #1 Florida State and likely Heisman winner Jameis Winston. However, it also has #20 Duke. Bleh.
The Big 12 doesn't have a title game anymore; because it doesn't have enough teams these days, per NCAA rule. The SEC has a great game, #3 Auburn vs #5 Mizzou. However, if OSU wins Saturday night at the home of the Indianapolis Colts, the SEC will not play for the national title. Yes, for the first time in eight years. It just sounds weird saying that.
Gary Danielson will call the SEC Title game for CBS, and he offered this insight via phone:
"The fact is neither of these teams is ranked number one or number two and they’re not defending their position in the BCS Championship. I think they’re going to come out loose and play a great football game."
But again, Auburn fans have to root for Michigan State in the B1G Championship game, AND win their own. That's why they made that blue and orange Spartans logo. It's not just simply "win and they're in."
Finally, here's my B1G Championship game preview and B1G Championship prediction.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS Catch him Tuesdays talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago Bears for WAOR 95.7 The Fan
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