The Big 10 bowl season got kicked off by Bret Bielema and the Badgers sticking a fork in the “the U.” The best part of this ass-kicking was Bielema’s post game comment directed towards Mark May: “I think he predicted us to win 4 or 5 games this season and here we are with 10 wins.” ZING! Mark May actually wanted an apology for this! He said that he said they would win “5 or 6 games” in 2009. Bielema could be looked at as an ass because he just won the Champs Sports Bowl and was blowing comments at May, but why not rip a little comment at the biggest Big 10 hater out there. May was obviously pissed that he couldn’t hump Pete Carroll’s leg like a little Chihuahua this season because they stunk and played in the Nut Bowl and barely beat Boston College. Fact of the matter is, Mark, the Big10 went 4-3 in bowl games this season and those 4 wins, were ALL against top 15 teams, and that’s why I’m writing this article.
Coming into the Champs Sports Bowl I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t think Wisconsin had any shot to hang with them. After you saw # 9, Shields, BLOW by the entire Wisconsin kickoff team on the first play, I’m sure many of you thought the same thing. But Wisconsin did what they do best and grinded it out with Big 10 offensive player of the year John Clay and some nice play action passes to their tight ends. No one in college football uses their tight ends better then Wisconsin does. Clay ran for 121 yards, back up Montee Ball ran for 61 yards and quarterback Scott Tolzien threw for 260 yards (most of it going to the tight ends). “The U” could not get anything going all night after the long kickoff return in the beginning. Wisconsin’s D pretty much shut down the ‘Canes until the end of the game when Jacory Harris had a late scoring strike to Thearon Collier. Another thing to keep in mind that happened late in the game for Buckeye fans is that Graig Cooper, the ‘Canes starter tailback blew out his knee and may not be ready for the beginning of next season. It sucks to hear he blew out his knee, but he was their leading rusher this season and may not be available for the showdown at the Shoe in early September. A must win for the Buckeyes if they have any National Championship aspirations.
I chalk the Wisconsin victory up to them being way more prepared then the Hurricanes. Randy Shannon and his staff were wrapping presents while Bret Bielema and his staff were sick of the critics saying “they couldn’t win a big game” or “the big 10 is weak.” Kudos to Bielema and his staff for shutting down the # 14 ranked ‘Canes.
JoePa and the Nittany Lions overcame the rain and a muddy field down in Orlando and emerged after a late field to setback # 13 LSU. Yes, SEC fans, that’s right, a Big 10 team beat a vaunted SEC team. I’m going to give credit to DC – Darryl Clark on this one, who would not let his team lose this game. On the final drive Clark told his team in the huddle, “No matter what, whatever it takes, we have to keep these chains rolling … All we need is a couple points.” Pretty good stuff from a Youngstown, Ohio boy – he also got JoePa his 24th bowl victory and handed Les Miles his first bowl loss in his tenure at LSU. LSU players and coaches whined after the game complaining about the field being a “mosh pit” after the rainstorm that struck during the game. Mother Nature isn’t the reason you lost, fellas. It’s a common theme for the SEC – Southern Excuse Conference – to come up with some sort of excuse (weather, officiating, they cheated, etc.) after losing. Wah wah wah!
In the third and most exciting game of the Big 10 bowl season, the Buckeyes of Ohio State stymied the Ducks of Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Just thinking about this game makes me want to go back to Pasadena and tailgate my face off, because yes, I did that on New Years Day. The tailgate is another story for another day (and pictures, me getting sprayed in the grill with champagne, and other things have already been posted here) because this time is for the 2009 Rose Bowl champion Buckeyes.
Watching the game finally made me realize why I and every other Buckeye fan (at least in Las Vegas) asked the question (mainly while were being drunken idiots) for the past few years, “Have you heard about Terrelle Pryor?” Well, if they hadn’t heard about him before, they have certainly heard about him by now. After Pryor and the Buckeyes lost to Purdue, a game where Pryor had the worst performance of his young college career, he had to gain back the confidence of head coach Jim Tressel. This was quite obvious after Pryor attempted only 17 passes in his last 3 Big 10 games – Iowa, Penn State and Michigan – where he never surpassed 100 yards. Tressel put the clamps down on Pryor, and let the o-line, which was finally healthy for the first time all season, and Boom (Dan Herron) and Zoom (Brandon Saine) take over.
Finally, in time for the Rose Bowl, Tressel unleashed Pryor, letting him throw the ball 37 times en route to 338 yards of total offense and a Rose Bowl MVP. Tressel has always been known throw a little “wrinkle” into Bowl games, but this was not expected. Did anyone really think Pryor would be named MVP and gain nearly 350 yards? This was a kid who couldn’t even beat Purdue on the road, how was he going to do it in the Rose Bowl? Well, Pryor answered ALL critics New Years day at the Rose Bowl and now, he finally has Tressel’s trust back. What does that mean? You’re going to see Jim Tressel give Terrelle Pryor the keys to the Bentley next season, much like he did Troy Smith after he stepped up late in his sophomore year. The Buckeyes have a legit shot at the BCS National Title next year and should be ranked top 3 in the preseason polls. The second week of the season vs. “the U” and a trip to Camp Randall, where Pryor won on a last minute drive as a freshman, will highlight the 2010 schedule.
The final win for the Big10, and a huge one at that, was the Hawkeyes of Iowa taking down the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Tuesday night at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was 49 degrees in Miami, something Iowa was for sure used to being in the Midwest. Georgia Tech? Not so much. The talk all week was “how will Iowa stop GT’s running game?” GT came in averaging 35 points a game, they were 2nd in the nation in rushing yards per game, were the # 1 team in the country in time of possession and 11th in scoring? How could Iowa stop this? Iowa’s game plan was awesome – they pretty much played there corners as close to the line of scrimmage as possible, which allowed 9 men in the box, to slow down GT’s running game. So, why doesn’t GT pass on them with 9 in the box? That’s not how Paul Johnson runs his offense, and Iowa knew that and worked it to perfection. Ricky Stanzi, an Ohio boy, lead the Hawkeyes in the first half on 2 scoring drives where he threw perfect passes for touchdowns – from there, he let Adrian Claiborne and the defense take over. Claiborne, who decided to come back for his senior year, was named the MVP with 9 tackles, 2 for loss, and 2 sacks. Claiborne and Cameron Heyward will certainly battle it out for Big 10 Defensive player of the year with the departure of Brandon Graham from Michigan.
After suffering embarrassment during the last 3 years of bowl games, this year certainly makes up for it. Spin it any way you want but the top 4 teams in the conference in OSU, PSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin not only won, but they soundly won each game. When you look at the other 3 Big 10 teams in action (Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan State) 2 of those teams lost by a combined total of 4 points. Michigan State was decimated by suspensions/injuries but was still able to play with Texas Tech for most of the game.
Maybe now, the Big10 will get some of its respect back after going 2-0 in BCS bowls and having 4 wins against teams in the top 15. The best thing about this is, Iowa, Penn State and OSU should all finish ranked in the top 10. Looking forward to next year, OSU, Iowa and Wisconsin should all be top 15 teams, with Penn State and Northwestern on the outside looking in. Minnesota cannot be counted out either – they have a great young coach in Tim Brewster who really has those kids believing. Purdue will have quarterback Robert Marve (transfer from the ‘Canes) finally eligible, and Michigan State will still be a competitive team. Indiana was another young team last year who surprised some people and I love their, fiery new coach Bill Lynch. Illinois and Michigan – enjoy the bottom because you guys stink like my dog’s shit.
GO BIG 10
Guest post written by Zach Attack