- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big Ten has grabbed a BCS at-large bid in each of the past seven seasons. Get ready for that streak to end.
Of course, a lot can change over the final seven weeks of the season. But in the first 2012 BCS standings that were released Sunday night, the Big Ten suffered a major embarrassment. Not a single team from the league made the Top 25 of those standings.
Almost all of that is self-inflicted. Ohio State, ranked No. 7 in The Associated Press poll, would be prominent in the BCS standings if the Buckeyes weren't ineligible because of NCAA probation. And the league's crummy nonconference performance leaves it little to complain about in this exclusion.
Still, it's somewhat surprising not to see Michigan in the Top 25. The Wolverines are ranked No. 23 in the AP and No. 25 in the USA Today coaches' poll (though the first Harris poll, which comprises one-third of the BCS formula, has Michigan No. 26). Their only two losses were to Alabama, which is No. 1 in the initial BCS standings, and Notre Dame, which is No. 5.
But Michigan has blown through its first two Big Ten games, and if it keeps playing like that, then the Maize and Blue will make a rise up the rankings and make a run through the BCS standings. Yet here is the rub: If the Wolverines don't win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl, that means they will incur at least one more loss and won't finish with a record better than 10-3. That might not be good enough for an at-large bid, given where they are now in the standings and the poor perception (well-earned) of the Big Ten this season.
Remember, a team must be in the top 14 of the final BCS standings and have at least nine victories to be eligible for an at-large bid. That's an awfully steep climb for any Big Ten team that doesn't claim the Rose Bowl bid at this point. There's a whole lot of season left, but the Big Ten's at-large streak looks to be severely at risk.
4dBrian Bennett and Josh Moyer