Back to school shopping has begun and that means one thing, college football is right around the corner. It is almost that time of year where we see Lee Corso putting mascot heads onto his own head, students getting rowdy, and fans debating who the best conference in football is. Is it the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 or the Big Ten? For this blog we are going to worry about the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan are the top three teams in the conference and those three happen to be part of the East division. Ohio State has the Heisman favorite, J.T. Barrett, returning for his last year of college football. Penn State, who’s finally back, is my favorite to make it to the championship. They have Saquon Barkley in the backfield, one of the best backs in the country, and Trace McSorley one of the best up and coming QB’s in the game. Also, they are the defending Big Ten Champions and they will be hungry to make the NCAA college playoff after getting robbed by Ohio State. Next, we have Michigan with Jim Harbaugh and his Khaki’s. Harbaugh has already turned the team around and they are ready to become Big Ten Champions for the first time since 2004.
Lastly, my underdog of the conference, Michigan State. They’re ready to get back to their winning ways after a disappointing season. One season after losing Connor Cook to the draft, the Spartans only won three games. After Cook left they were left with Tyler O’ Connor, who did manage to beat Ohio State when Cook was hurt the year before, did not perform up to par during the season. O’Connor would lose his job to Freshman Brian Lewerke, who looked like a bright spot for a team that was down, but eventually O’Connor would find his way back to the starting spot. With a new season, Lewerke looks like the guy to beat in camp, along with the trio of LJ Scott, Gerald Homes and Madre London in the back field. The Spartans could find their way back to the Big Ten Championship due to this young core.
On the other side of the Big Ten is the West division. As always, Wisconsin is the favorite. Even after losing T.J. Watt, a first round pick to the Steelers, Wisconsin will have an easier schedule this season, by avoiding Penn State and Ohio State. Wisconsin should have smooth sailing to the Championship game with a few bumps in the road including their showdown in Lincoln against the Cornhuskers, and their last home game of the season against the Wolverines. If everything goes as planned, the Badgers will make it back to the Big Ten Championship for the fifth time since 2011.
At the end of the season, the Big Ten had four teams in the top 25, Ohio State (6), Penn State (7), Wisconsin (9), and Michigan (10). They also had ten teams in bowl games and only three of those teams won.
Let’s compare how the Pac-12 finished in the top 25 last season. USC (3), Washington (4), Stanford (12), Colorado (17), and Utah (23). Unlike the Big Ten, they only had six teams make it to bowl games, and three of those teams won.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 went face-to-face in the bowl games. First Minnesota played Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, where Minnesota would win the game 17 to 12. The second game was Utah versus Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. Utah would kick a twenty-seven yard field goal with a little over a minute left in the game to win 26 to 24. Lastly, in one of the best games of the year, Penn State took on the mighty Trojans in the Rose Bowl. USC would come back and score 17 points in the fourth quarter. Three of those seventeen points were the result of the game winning field goal as time expired, to win it all, 52 to 49. Both conferences had one team each in the BCS playoffs. Ohio State representing the Big ten, and Washington representing the Pac 12, would both lose in the first game. Washington lost to Alabama 24 to 7, and Ohio State lost to Clemson 31-0.
So who was the better conference in football last season? Probably the Pac-12. The Big Ten’s top teams all lost in bowl games, besides Wisconsin, and Pac-12 had a 2-1 win record against the Big Ten. With it being a new season, we will see many changes. Washington and USC have two of the top QB’s in the league, but will that be enough to outstand the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and those Nittany Lions? We will find out August 27th on opening kickoff.