Pac-12 territory treacherous for B1G teams

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
3:30
PM ET
The Big Ten's struggles in the Rose Bowl Game are well documented -- only one win (Ohio State in 2010) in the past nine contests -- but the league's problems in Pac-12 territory stretch far beyond Pasadena.

While most Big Ten players and most Big Ten fans enjoy making trips to the West Coast, they rarely return to the heartland with smiles on their faces. A Big Ten team hasn't won a regular-season road game against the Pac-12 since Ohio State beat Washington in 2007 (Nebraska won at Washington in 2010, but as a member of the Big 12).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Big Ten is just 5-17 in true road games against the Pac-12 since the 2000 season (not including new Big Ten member Nebraska and new Pac-12 members Utah and Colorado). While the Big Ten had much more success in the Rose Bowl between 1993 -- the year Penn State joined the league -- and 1999, it failed to record a road win against the Pac-12 in nine tries. So since 1993, the Big Ten is 5-25-1 on the road against the Pac-12.

Three Big Ten teams attempt to reverse the trend Saturday as they visit Pac-12 venues. The three-pack of games kicks off with No. 13 Wisconsin visiting Oregon State, continues with No. 16 Nebraska taking on UCLA at the Rose Bowl and finishes with Illinois invading Tempe to face Arizona State. Although Wisconsin and Nebraska are favored, the Big Ten hasn't had multiple road wins against the Pac-12 in the same year -- much less on the same day -- in decades.

"You're dealing with the time change, you're dealing with a whole different environment, certainly," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose teams lost at Arizona in 2010 and at Arizona State in 2004. "It's tough going on the road no matter where you go, so all those things combined makes it a factor."

Bo Pelini is the only Big Ten coach with a positive reference point as he prepares his team for the trek to L.A. Nebraska will follow a similar itinerary as it did in 2010, when it visited Seattle and crushed Washington 56-21.

"You try and keep them on your time, and you always keep the time change in mind," Pelini said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to execute your football. You've got to go out there with a focus in mind of why you're making the trip out there and understand the challenges that are involved with it. It's a business trip, and if you approach it that way, you have a heck of a lot better chance at success."

Wisconsin's Bret Bielema has coached in the past two Rose Bowls, but he has yet to take his team on the road to a Pac-12 venue in the regular season. His closest experience came in 2008, when Wisconsin, then No. 10 nationally, visited then-No. 21 Fresno State and escaped with a 13-10 victory.

"We've got a schedule that's similar to that visit," Bielema said of this week's plan for Oregon State. "We'll change up some things at practice. It is a different environment to play on the road in a good environment, which we know we're walking into, so you'll take some of the experiences we've had success with."

Tim Beckman, in his first year at Illinois, draws from his experiences as Toledo's coach the past three seasons. Even the bad ones, including a 57-14 loss at Boise State in 2010.

Saturday's late kickoff at Arizona State -- 9:36 p.m. CT -- shouldn't faze Beckman, who coached plenty of night games in the MAC with the Rockets.

"We'll use the same philosophy that we did for any night football game," he said. "We'll do quite a bit of walk-throughs during the day, but we’ll get the kids off their feet and be ready to play at 9:36."

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