Thursday, June 28, 2012
Big Ten's best and worst of the BCS era
By Brian Bennett
The BCS will last two more seasons, but its death warrant was signed on June 26, 2012. Let's have a moment of silence for the BCS.
Hey, I said silence, not screams of celebration!
OK, so few people will shed many tears for the always-controversial, seldom-appreciated BCS system. But at least it did provide us with some excellent national championship games we might not have otherwise gotten to see and countless hours of debate fodder.
The BCS has definitely had its ups and downs for the Big Ten. Here's a look at the league's best and worst moments in the BCS since the system began in 1998.
Best BCS moment: Ohio State's national championship
There's little room for doubt when picking the high water mark of the BCS era in the Big Ten. Ohio State went undefeated in 2002 then sprung the upset over powerhouse Miami in an overtime classic in the Fiesta Bowl to win the league's only BCS national title. This is one you can credit to the BCS, because it might never have happened without the system. Under the old way of doing things, the Buckeyes would have gone to the Rose Bowl to play the Pac-10 champ (USC), much as undefeated Michigan did in 1997. Miami would have played somebody else, possibly No. 3 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. If the Hurricanes and Buckeyes both won their bowl games, Miami almost certainly would have claimed the national title in the polls over Ohio State because it was the defending champion and had a more dominant regular season. But the Buckeyes got a chance to prove they were better on the field, and that's exactly what they did.
Runner-up: January 2006, when Penn State won the Orange Bowl and Ohio State won the Fiesta Bowl.
Worst BCS moment: January 2007
The Big Ten was the center of the college football world by the end of the 2006 regular season, as Ohio State and Michigan were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, heading into their annual showdown. After an epic 42-39 win by the Buckeyes, many argued that the two best teams in the country were in the Big Ten and that they should play again for the national title. That didn't happen, but Ohio State would be favored in the BCS Championship Game against Florida, while Michigan's consolation prize was a trip to the Rose Bowl. That's when things really fell apart. The Buckeyes were embarrassed by the Gators 41-14, marking the beginning of the "Big Ten is too slow for the SEC" narrative. Meanwhile, the Wolverines were thumped by two touchdowns by a USC team that lost twice during the regular season and finished No. 8 in the BCS standings. After Ohio State again got blown out by an SEC opponent -- a two-loss LSU team, no less --- the following year, the league has endured a four-year national title appearance drought while absorbing plenty of criticism and mockery for its performances on the big stage.
Runner-up: The league's run of futility against USC in BCS games. The Trojans are 5-0 in BCS bowls against the Big Ten, outscoring league opponents 185-90 in the process.