Not just bad, embarrassingly bad. Taken by themselves, the evening losses on national TV by Michigan State (at Oregon), Michigan (at Notre Dame), and Ohio State (to Virginia Tech) are not that embarrassing. Although Michigan’s loss was a blowout, all three were not huge surprises, coming against quality teams.
But losing all 3 of these games after earlier conference losses to MAC teams Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, and close escapes against McNeese State and Ball State, and there is simply no denying that the Big Ten is, once again, not very good.
And it’s hard to say this is a recruiting issue. None of these losses came against SEC schools, where we could argue about the number of 5 star recruits they get compared to the Big Ten because of the weather, etc. These are not teams with higher rated recruiting classes than the Big Ten’s best programs. There’s no geographical advantage at play here, but here is definitely an advantage. I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t coaching?
Michigan State looked like they had Oregon figured out pretty well before Oregon simply out executed them at the end, but neither Michigan or OSU looked like they had any idea what to do. OSU’s ineffectiveness could be explained by Miller’s injury and using a freshman QB, but the offensive line play was also atrocious, and they’ve had all spring and training camp to get that together, and it’s not working. Michigan had no such excuse, they were just dominated.
So, it looks like the inaugural 4 team playoff may just take place without a Big Ten team, but it’s a long season, a lot can happen, which might be the scariest thing about it.