No Big Ten team has won a football game this year.
Despite 2011 embarking on just its third day, five Big Ten teams have taken to the gridiron.
All five have failed.
On a New Year’s Day that will live in conference infamy, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin all came up short.
Three of those schools — Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State — perpetuated southerners’ favorite notion that the Big Ten can’t hang with the SEC. Mississippi State, Alabama and Florida thumped their Midwest adversaries by a combined score of 138-45.
In late November, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee questioned the merits of schools from non-BCS conferences. He said TCU and Boise State, then ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the BCS, respectively, weren’t worthy of a shot at the national title.
“I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for (the BCS conference) schools,” Gee told The Associated Press. “We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.”
TCU beat Wisconsin 21-19 to cap off an undefeated season in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin was the only team to knock off Gee’s Buckeyes.
Even incoming Big Ten member Nebraska lost last week in the Holiday Bowl to Washington, an opponent it defeated 56-21 on Sept. 18. The Cornhuskers totaled 189 yards of offense, a far cry from the 533 yards they amassed against the Huskies three months earlier.
Iowa’s win over Missouri in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday and Illinois’ victory over Baylor in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday have the Big Ten sitting at 2-5 overall.
The Big Ten isn’t the only conference to struggle this bowl season, however. None of the BCS conferences has blown away the competition, and only the ACC (4-3) and the Big East (3-2) have compiled winning records.
That’s the same Big East scorned by many after sending unranked, four-loss Connecticut to the Fiesta Bowl, which the Huskies lost 48-20 to Oklahoma on Saturday.
ACC champion Virginia Tech faces Stanford in tonight’s Orange Bowl.
Before Saturday’s trifecta against the Big Ten, the SEC had been 0-3.
The Big 12 is 3-4, while the Pac-10 is 1-1.
OSU can salvage what’s left of the Big Ten bowl season by knocking off SEC foe Arkansas in Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes and Razorbacks have never played, but OSU has never won a bowl game against an SEC opponent (0-9).
“I know personally — I have lost three in a row against the SEC,” said OSU coach Jim Tressel. “I’m not tired of hearing about it. It’s a reminder to me of just how good the SEC is in football.”