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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
How would Big Ten fare in football ACC Challenge?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

An earlier post today explored the pros and cons of the Big Ten ending its regular season so early. Well, here's another con.

While Big Ten football sits on the sidelines, the nation gets a chance every year to poke fun at Big Ten basketball during the first week of December in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Though the Big Ten is holding its own this year (3-3 entering tonight's matchups), don't be surprised if the Challenge becomes yet another Big Ten beat-down (North Carolina = scary good).

Jim Polzin, who does a great job covering Wisconsin football for The Capital Times, brings up the idea of an ACC-Big Ten football challenge in his blog today. Polzin matches up the teams according to the Sagarin ratings, which love the ACC and hate the Big Ten, and his calculations have the ACC winning 7-4 in neutral-site contests. 

Here are the pairings:

I think the results would be a little more even if these games actually took place. The Big Ten is a league with two very good teams (Penn State, Ohio State), some solid teams and three bad teams (Indiana, Purdue, Michigan). The ACC has achieved incredible parity this season with no great teams but no real bad ones either. 

I highly doubt Northwestern, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota all would lose their ACC Challenge matchups, but the ACC's lack of bad teams likely would give it the edge. 

A series like this seems highly unlikely in football, but the Big Ten would definitely fare better against the ACC on the gridiron than it does on the hardcourt. It probably wouldn't hurt the Big Ten to have more bowl tie-ins with the ACC and Big East instead of Big 12 and SEC teams that often play the bowls in their backyards.