New Year proves cruel to Big Ten
I can't confirm whether Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is now considering "Losers" and "Laughingstocks" as names for his expanded league's future divisions.
I can't confirm whether Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his teammates were at a New Orleans ink parlor on Saturday night, having their "2010 Big Ten Co-Champions" tatoos removed from their biceps.
I can confirm the Big Ten got taken to the woodshed on New Year's Day.
The first day of 2011 was one Delany would like to forget. It started with Northwestern losing to Texas Tech 45-38 in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, and then ended with Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin losing to TCU 21-19 in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO.
In between, Alabama, the fourth-place team in the SEC West, blasted Big Ten co-champion Michigan State 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl. Penn State fell to Florida 37-24 in the Outback Bowl, and Mississippi State blasted Michigan 52-14 in the Progressive Gator Bowl.
Big Ten teams went 0-5 in bowl games Saturday, the first time since 2002 that one of the league's teams failed to win on New Year's Day.
Overall, Big Ten teams are 2-5 in bowl games, with Iowa coming from behind to defeat Missouri 27-24 in the Insight Bowl and Illinois routing Baylor 38-14 in the Texas Bowl.
Adding salt to Delany's wounds, Nebraska, which becomes the Big Ten's 12th member next season, was upset by Washington 19-7 in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl.
Any respect the Big Ten gained from last season's performance -- the league went 4-3 in bowl games, with Ohio State upsetting Oregon 26-17 in the Rose Bowl and Iowa defeating ACC champion Georgia Tech 24-14 in the Orange Bowl -- was lost in one fell swoop Saturday.
Here are some of the Big Ten's lowlights from New Year's Day:
• TCU's defense shut down high-powered Wisconsin's offense to become the first team from a non-AQ conference to win the Rose Bowl.
The No. 5 Badgers, who won their last seven regular-season games and averaged 48.2 points during their winning streak, mustered only six points against TCU in the second half. The Horned Frogs won the game after linebacker Tank Carder batted down a two-point conversion pass with two minutes to play.
• The Spartans, who finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and argued they deserved to play in a BCS bowl game, suffered the most lopsided defeat in the history of the Capital One Bowl, which has been played every year since 1947.
Alabama had 546 yards of offense and led 28-0 at the half.
"It's a reality check," said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who fell to 0-4 in bowl games with the Spartans.
• Michigan suffered the worst bowl loss in its storied history, losing by 38 points to Mississippi State in a game that might have sealed coach Rich Rodriguez's fate.
It was the most points ever allowed by the Wolverines in a bowl game and the most ever scored by the Bulldogs in the postseason. Mississippi State gained 485 yards of offense, scored 21 points in the second quarter and converted five fourth-down plays.
The only good news for Michigan: Rodriguez's buyout dropped from $4 million to $2.5 million as soon as the clock struck midnight on New Year's Day.
• The Big Ten went 0-3 against SEC teams, losing by a combined score of 138-45. It is the first time since New Year's Day 2002 that Big Ten teams failed to beat an SEC opponent in a bowl game.
There's still hope for the Big Ten. No. 6 Ohio State, the eighth Big Ten team playing in a bowl game, takes on No. 8 Arkansas in Tuesday night's Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Then again, the Buckeyes have never beaten an SEC team in the postseason, losing nine games in a row against them.
Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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