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Monday, July 14, 2008
Experts weigh in on Big Ten's badness

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Let's see if the blog editors let me get away with this headline. Who needs grammar anyway?

Anyway, I missed this from College Football News, which is asking its panel of media experts, including ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman, to address the sport's biggest questions. Last week, they tackled how bad the Big Ten had become and what they would do if the BCS title game once again features Ohio State vs. some supposedly superior SEC team.

The general consensus wasn't as biting as some might expect. Though the league is struggling -- particularly among its middle class -- things aren't that bad and Ohio State remains one of the nation's elite programs. The Big Ten is not the SEC, or even the Big 12, but there's still a reason to pay attention.

The biggest problem could be a growing gap between Ohio State and the rest of the league. As SI.com's Stewart Mandel said:

"I feel like we're in a very similar era to the '70s, when Woody and Bo's teams would beat up on the rest of the conference, then go to the Rose Bowl and get smoked by USC or UCLA. The good news this year is we'll get a very good read on Ohio State pretty early when they face USC. If they win that, nobody will be able to say they don't belong in the national title game, should they go 11-1 again."

CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd might need a straightjacket if Ohio State makes it to Miami in January, but he also sees the distance between the Buckeyes and the others.

"Pesky programs like Purdue, Michigan State and Iowa have fallen off. Michigan certainly isn't going to be a factor this season. Rich Rod is going to get it going but it's a square-peg, round-hole thing in 2008. That said, Ohio State is on the cusp of a dynasty."