For college football fans everywhere, the Holiday Season is the best time of year. There are football games on almost constantly and everyone loves getting presents whether it is for Hanukkah or Christmas. For some conferences, bowl games just confirm their dominance over the rest of the nation, while other conferences, like the Big Ten, are wishing for something more. Fans of the Big Ten across the country are eager for their conference to get back to being a national power. So in the Christmas spirit here is my Big Ten Wish List:
- For #4 Ohio State to Beat #1 Alabama- It’s No. 1 against No. 4 and the Buckeyes have the chance to knock out the SEC from the first ever College Football Playoff and put the Big Ten back on the map. Oh yeah, Ohio State will be playing with their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones. The Buckeyes have been rolled the past few times playing in big games versus big time SEC opponents (Florida ’06, LSU ’07). At the very least, if they are competitive, it will score some points for the beleaguered Big Ten.
- 5-5 or Better in Bowl Games– Ten teams from the Big Ten are playing in post season bowls, and all ten teams are not favored to win. There are some tough match-ups for the conference on this year’s slate such as Nebraska’s showdown against Southern California in the Holiday Bowl or Wisconsin facing Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Both of these Big Ten squads will be playing under interim coaching staffs. The Big Ten needs to salvage a split in the post season to come out ahead, especially if the Buckeyes lose the semi-final game against Alabama. The conference will have four shots at taking down SEC foes. That is four shots at turning the tide in rebuilding the reputation of one of the nation’s most historically rich conferences. In addition to Ohio State playing Alabama and Wisconsin facing off against Auburn, Iowa will square off against Tennessee and Minnesota will get their shot against Missouri. The smaller bowls are important too. If Louisiana Tech topples Illinois, it will be another black eye for the boys from the north.
- Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska Need To Return To Glory– Right now the Big Ten is a one team conference, and that team is Ohio State. Michigan State was great in 2013, but they fell off and Wisconsin, who won three straight Big Ten crowns, is looking for their third coach in four years. The conference needs Michigan and Penn State and “newcomer” Nebraska to return to form and bring up the rest of the league’s resume. It starts with hiring the right coach. Michigan has failed twice now with Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Wisconsin is still scratching their head after Gary Anderson left for Oregon State, and Nebraska hired Oregon State’s Mike Riley. Phew, it was getting difficult to keep up with all the moves. If Michigan does land Jim Harbaugh, than the Wolverines should have a coach who can rebuild that program into a contender every year.
- The Little Guys Need To Step Up- I am looking at you Indiana and Purdue. The Hoosiers have made it a habit of finishing at the bottom of the conference for most of their existence and aside from a few flashes in the pan, IU has not even sniffed success since 1994. Just going 6-6 would bring a big boost to the conference. Indiana finished 4-8 (1-7) in 2014, even though they did knock off eventual SEC East champion, Missouri. However, they also lost to a very mediocre Bowling Green team. Purdue has had much more success than the Hoosiers, but have now finished last in the Big Ten in consecutive seasons. Long gone are the days of Drew Brees and Joe Tiller.
While all of the wishes that Big Ten fans want may not come true, hopefully for their sake and the sake of college football, some of them are fulfilled. College football is more fun when the Big Ten is playing meaningful games each week. So enjoy the Holidays and family, but most of all enjoy a really great slate of bowl games this season.
*Section Photo credit to Michael Hickey, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Andrew Weber, USA Today Sports.