Bravo to the Big Ten blog readers for a terrific response to my question about the league's best and worst moments of the BCS era. I heard from a variety of fan bases, including new league member Nebraska, and received an array of responses, both about individual teams and about the league as a whole.
Here are several of them.
Jack from Arlington, Va.: Die hard Penn State fan here, and these are my B1G's best/worst with regards to PSU. Best:1) 2005 PSU season -- The "We Are Back" campaign led by M Rob and the dynamic freshman receivers running a variation of the Texas offense, as well as a defense that sent 6+ players to the NFL (Poz, Connor, Alford, Paxson, Hali, Zemetis), with its highlight moments (M Rob to DWill at NW, torching a Minnesota team with a legit Heisman candidate at the time, OSU game in the rain, torching Wisconsin, clinching the B1G in E Lansing, dramatic 3OT win against FSU/Bowden). Even the lowlight was a classic B1G moment when Michigan won on a last second TD. 2) LJ runs for 2000 yards after PSU fell off the map for two years. Complete with a dismantling of Nebraska (the loudest and most energetic PSU home game I've ever attended, by far). 3) 2009 PSU hands LSU its first bowl loss since 2004 in the rainy Capital One Bowl. Worst: 1) 2003/2004 seasons -- easy. 2) 1999 meltdown after Minnesota loss. 3) Obviously, the entire Sandusky scandal, and I'd be willing to lump in Wisconsin's whoopin of PSU last season in that, as well as the Ticket City Bowl loss.
Shildy from Port St. Lucie, Fla.: Best had to be 1998: I'm a Purdue alum and got the chance to attend the '01 Rose Bowl as a sophomore putting that at the top for me personally, but as a conference I'd put 98 up there as our best year overall. Wisky won the Rose Bowl with Ron Dayne, Ohio State won the Sugar Bowl in the inaugural BCS coming out party. The "lesser" bowls saw Michigan beat out Arkansas, Penn State defeat Kentucky, and my Boilers surprise #4 Kansas State. The worst had to be January 1, 2011: Losing 5 games, most in epic fashion, on the same day had to be the bottom of the barrel. The terrible showing put the Big 10 in the crosshairs of every critic again.
Dave from Denver: Aside from 2003 with Ohio State winning the BCS National Championship, I think the 2009-2010 bowl season was the best collective year for the B1G. Ohio State beat Oregon (who was supposed to be too fast for Ohio State to contain) in the Rose Bowl, Iowa beat ACC champion Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, and apart from the BCS Bowls there was also Penn State beating LSU in the Capital One Bowl and Wisconsin beating Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. Until the abysmal 0-fer January in the 2010-2011 bowl season, this season seemed to mark a flip in public perception for the B1G.
Dan from Des Moines, Iowa: I would have to say the best year was 2009. The big ten went a very respectable 4-3, won 2 BCS bowls (go Iowa) and did it without one of the big ten's "stars" (Mich). The worst was probably the next year, 2010. Big ten went 3-5 and only one BCS bowl (I guess the Rose should have taken Iowa...j/k). And both michigan schools got demolished 49-7 and 52-14 (I still think it was a worse showing for UofM, at least MSU got beat by Alabama, Miss St is always in the bottom of the SEC).
Brian from Atlanta: Adam, The B10's best BCS moment: It has to be OSU winning the title in perhaps the greatest game ever played. OSU was a huge underdog, and almost every starter on each team played in the NFL. There was great play in all 3 aspects of the game, too. The B10's worst BCS moment: I lean towards 9-3 IL getting run off the field by USC in 2007-8. The second best B10 team shouldn't be that weak.
John from Austin, Texas: Adam, reading the nation Blog Nebraska was left out of all the high and lows (well Pac-12 had them on a low getting picked over Oregon). This may belong to the Big-12, but whatever, they are in the family so here is the low and high. Low -- 2001. Crushed by Colorado, everyone else bows out, the coaches poll proves it is political (yet somehow doesn't stop the huskers from an invite). Then, they drop an egg. Getting pasted by Miami (the score wasn't even a good indication of the carnage). Well, not "BCS" exactly more Alliance (I figure most BIG fans may not even know it existed). The Alliance was like the caterpillar before morphing into the butterfly (okay, Just equated the BCS to a butterfly, well, you get the idea). That would have to be 2005 of course. An absolute demolishing Florida (and SEC Team) for the win.
Steven from Jacksonville, Fla.: Obviously the one that stands out is 2008 Michigan beating Florida and Heisman winner Tim Tebow in their own backyard. But I think the Sugar bowl win over V/T sticks out more to me. The fact Michigan over came three dismal years under Rich Rodriguez to be turned around and win 11 games under Brady Hoke means more. It was something that all Michigan fans were starving for ..... a BCS victory. Go Blue!
Jason from Columbus, Ohio: Best could be January 2010: Just like in January 2006 when Penn State (Orange) and Ohio State (Fiesta) both won BCS bowl games, in January 2010 Ohio State (Rose) and Iowa (Orange) both won their BCS bowl games. Unlike in 2006, both OSU and Iowa were not favored to win and did. Honorable mention to January 1998 when OSU (Sugar) and Wisconsin (Rose) both won their BCS games, and the Big Ten went 5-0, in bowl games. Worst......January 2007. Hard to top that.
Frodo from Parts Unknown: As a Nebraska fan (the Huskers have a huge following here in the Shire), the 2001 Nebraska season has to be one of the best AND worst BCS seasons for Nebraska. It sure was nice to get into the National Championship, but the actual game wasn't that fun....
Enrique from Grand Rapids, Mich.: Not too much to choose from for the MSU fans, and since I attended MSU for all four John L years, there's only one logical choice for me: last year's bowl win against Georgia in triple overtime. A year and a half ago, MSU was embarrassed by Alabama in a game that we hoped would prove we were ready for a BCS game and the national stage. We weren't. So along comes 2011, and yet again we missed out -- this time by our own hands. Still, Georgia would prove a good test, and any opportunity to beat an SEC team is welcome. By halftime I was ready to move on to the next season as visions of Alabama flashed in my eyes. Fortunately, the Spartans had more faith than me, and I watched as they slowly and excitingly climbed back into the game. By the end of the fourth quarter and through overtime, I was moving from couch to floor and back again, throwing my hands in disgust one moment, pumping my fist in jubilation the next, and everything in between. When Rashad White got that paw up to win the game, I could scarcely believe it. It was a special teams triumph that shined through the gaffe that cost us a shot at Roses. Dantonio, ever cross and stern looking, leaped with joy, and it was in such contrast to his typical persona that I enjoy watching that more than the play itself. It wasn't the biggest game or the best opponent, but that game was meaningful to the Spartan faithful in so many ways.
Mark from Plymouth, Mich.: In my completely unbiased opinion, Michigan's comeback vs. Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl has to be one of the best moments. Tom Brady playing in his last game of an up-and-down career, going nuts with David Terrell in making a couple 14 point comebacks to beat Alabama in OT. Doesn't get much better than that.
Jed from Grand Forks, N.D.: Hey Adam, my favorite BCS moment for the Big Ten has to be when Ohio St and Iowa won their BCS bowls in the same year. They were underdogs in both games and everyone kept on talking about how slow the Big Ten was and how they stood no chance against Oregon and Georgia Tech. Instead, they represented B1G well, and the conference had a pretty good bowl season that year (which unfortunately does not happen very often). I was so sick of hearing how overrated the B1G was and was glad we won some marquee games.