By Shawn Muller-

(CBS) The Big Ten has been classified as being “weak” for a couple of years now, and I for one, am getting tired of hearing about it.

Why are Big Ten teams “punished” by the media for their non-conference schedules while teams from other conferences—cough, SEC, cough—get a pass? Outside of Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Auburn, what have the other SEC teams done that makes them superior to the rest of the Big Ten?

It is no secret that the SEC has won six of the past ten national championships (all by the teams stated above), but other than that, I don’t see what the big deal is? I see the SEC as being just like every other conference: it has some very good teams, some decent teams, and some horrible teams.

The Big Ten is in the same boat as far as upper, middle, and lower echelon team’s year in and year out, but unlike the Big 12, the Pac 12, and the ACC, the Big Ten gets most of the negative press.

OK, so Ohio State lost two national championship games pretty handily. But who cares? Are we seriously holding one team’s struggles (in the national championship game of all places) against the entire conference?

That is utterly ridiculous.

I have never seen a sport where what happened in seasons past is supposedly the tell-tale signs of the future outside of college football.

Well this team lost to that team in last year’s bowl game, so therefore, they are not that good this year. That is the dumbest argument, but yet, it happens all the time.

So I ask again: Why is the Big Ten so “weak” this season as opposed to other power conferences?

Is it because Ohio State isn’t perched at the top like they normally are?

Is it because Penn State isn’t looking like a contender with that anemic offense they have over in Happy Valley?

Is it because Michigan has been terrible for three years?

Is it because Michigan State lost to Notre Dame in South Bend? If that is the case, then why did the Irish lose to Michigan?

Is it because Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota are horrible? News flash: these three teams are normally towards the bottom of the league, so nothing new here.

Seriously, I would like to know why the Big Ten is considered “weak” this season.

The University of Wisconsin is playing lights out right now, but still, many talking heads are saying they haven’t played anybody yet. Last Saturday was supposed to be the day we found out just how good the Badgers actually were when Nebraska came to Camp Randall, but Wisconsin dismantled the Huskers 48-17. Did Wisconsin “prove” that they just may be a legitimate national title contender with the win? You would have thought so, but now many people are trying to say, “Well, maybe Nebraska was overrated.” At what point does a team cross over in to “contender” status?

Illinois is 5-0 for what seems like the first time since the forward pass was instituted. They beat No. 22 Arizona State, and yet there are seven teams (AP Poll) and four teams (Coaches Poll) with at least one loss ranked ahead of them. If they changed their name to USC, Notre Dame, or even Ohio State, I guarantee you that the Illini would be ranked near the top 10.

Michigan was supposed be rebuilding once again in this first season under the guidance of new head coach Brady Hoke, but the Wolverines are humming along right now. They beat Notre Dame, a formidable San Diego State Aztecs team, and just took Minnesota to the woodshed to the tune of 58-0. Yet for all they—or should I say Denard Robinson—have done, people are just waiting for the wheels to fall off again. I myself am guilty of thinking this as well, but what have they really done to make I, or anyone else, think they aren’t actually as good as they have played thus far? Maybe they are better than people thought?

If you are keeping tabs at home, that is three teams from the Big Ten Conference that remain undefeated after five weeks of football.

Three undefeated teams from a “down” conference?


That is two less than the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech), one more than the ACC (Clemson, Georgia Tech), one more than the SEC (LSU, Alabama), and two more than the Pac-12 (Stanford).

As we get deeper in to the conference schedules, the cream will rise to the top, and more and more undefeated teams will meet their match, but I just get so tired of hearing about the woes of the Big Ten when other conferences seem to get a pass.

Michigan State is a good football team. The Iowa Hawkeyes are a good football team. Nebraska is a good football team. Ohio State and Penn State may not be the teams we are used to seeing, but they are no horrible.

If anything, I would say that the Big Ten is pretty balanced this year as opposed to weak. I would love for anyone to be able to give me a legitimate answer proving me otherwise, but I know that won’t happen because it’s baloney.

The Big Ten is just fine this year.

Does that mean I think the conference is dominant? No it does not. But I won say it is “down” either.

EVERY major conference has its perennial doormats.

The Big Ten has theirs. The SEC has Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi. The ACC has Duke, Boston College, and North Carolina State. The Big 12 has Kansas, Iowa State, and (normally) Baylor. The Pac 12 has Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon State. The Big East has…well…the Big East.

I will give LSU all the credit in the world for their play thus far and the schedule they have played. They have beaten Oregon and West Virginia and Mississippi State…and definitely look like they are the best team in the country. I will also give Clemson credit for beating Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech in three straight weeks. That is impressive as well.

But that is about it.

After the two Tigers, there is not one undefeated team remaining that has played a “daunting” schedule and there is not a team out there that will have to play tough teams every Saturday from here on out.

The fact is, other than LSU (I’m still not sold on Clemson), I don’t think we can say we know much about any team in the country right now…but we have seen glimpses. Every team that is undefeated right now has done what they are supposed to do and they are controlling what they can control. You can only play the teams on your schedule.

I just don’t want to hear any more of the “Big Ten is down, hence teams like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois may be overrated” bull until we have at least played half of the conference slate. That crap doesn’t fly when we have only seen one conference game.

There is a lot of football left to be played, and there are bound to be some upsets along the way…..but make no mistake about it:

EVERY conference has its warts.

Including the “mighty SEC”.

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