MADISON, WI - It's not always fun. It's not always easy. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Preseason to Today. Penn State ends up very close to where they started.
Preaseaon AP Poll:
16. Notre Dame
17. Michigan State
18. Ohio State
NR. Penn State (27th)
NR. Iowa (37th)
NR. Michigan (43rd)
B1G End Of Season AP Poll:
10. Michigan State
23. Penn State
NR. Ohio State
NR. Notre Dame
Final Big Ten Standings.
Penn State 6-2
Ohio State 3-5
Michigan State 7-1
It was a hell of a run, and Penn State is officially your Pig Co-Champion.
Saying goodbye to Sagarin. The highest ranked Big Ten team in Sagarin's ELOCHESS Ranking (the one used in the BCS) is Michigan State at 21. Penn State finishes 25th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten in his "actual" ranking, one spot a head of where most objective observers pegged this team thank to Ohio State's poor showing.
Much was made of the divisions, officially developed with parity as the #1 priority, with the loudest shouting about whose was better. Historically the Big Ten office did sound math. In 2011 Sagarin says:
Michigan State's Legends division looks better this year in every way except Wisconsin, who sits atop all of the conference's current power rankings.
The Road To Indy. This section proved a welcome change for a season that failed the national picture test early against Alabama. If Penn State was able to pull the win off last night -- something that was never going to happen for a variety of tackling (and of course conspiratorial) reasons -- the game works. Two teams win their divisions outright, with the same record, and play for the first time on a neutral field for the whole gift basket.
The opposite just took place. Michigan State is teed up to get the royal hose job here. They have the best conference record and would have earned the Rose Bowl bid under the old rules. They also beat the #2 team head to head, and did so without the luxury of a plug-n-play free agent, fifth year quarterback.
Instead, if they lose a game they've already won, not only do they fall out of the Rose Bowl, but they almost certainly fall behind Michigan -- another team they beat, this one handily -- in the bowl selections, watching their rival take their BCS spot. But thems the rules, and the ones we all signed up for.
Bowls. If you were able to gut it out last night you saw the Big Ten tie-ins in the fourth quarter. They look like this:
#2 The Capital One Bowl
#3 The Outback Bowl
#4 The Insight Bowl
#5 The Gator Bowl
#6 The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
#7 The TicketCity Bowl
#8 The Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl
Under normal circumstances, Penn State wouldn't expect to fall below their over standing of fifth, and often they'd get a bump over teams with the same record. We are not under normal circumstances. There is a rule that you can't be jumped by a team with a two game differential from yours, but that only applies to the Capital One and Outback bowl.
My general sense is that the toxicity has largely worn off as it relates to the blameless parties, but that assumption requires faith in the population at large, which I'll leave up to you the reader to engage in.
The Insight is a matchup against the #4/5 Big XII team on December 30th, projections range from Oklahoma to Texas A&M to Baylor, who is fighting for their own BCS spot. The Gator Bowl kicks off January 2nd against the SEC #6/7. Florida is the unanimous selection in projections, and it's hard to imagine that bowl's committee (1) wanting a rematching, and (2) picking Penn State over home-grown Florida to prevent it.
My sense is that the Gator wants nothing to do with the above mentioned rematch, and the Insight would probably prefer to get Nebraska for a bad-blood game with the Big XII. That could happen if they talk one of the bigger bowls into selecting either Penn State or Ohio State before their up.
If your rooting for a January 2nd bowl, Michigan pulling this off would help:
First, Georgia must lose to LSU. If Georgia wins the SEC title and takes the third BCS bid for the SEC, there is no scenario where Michigan would get a BCS bid. Michigan can count on jumping Georgia and the Big Ten title game loser to squeeze into the top 14, but it has one more team to worry about: Baylor. If the Bears beat Texas next week, they might jump the Wolverines, keeping them out of the top 14.
While it's looking likely for the Wolverines, it may end up being irrelevant from Penn State's perspective. David Jones mentioned this week that he's hearing whispers of "gutlessness" in the bowl ranks -- which, color me shocked -- and that Ohio State and Iowa will both jump Penn State.
I could see the bowls being more afraid that Penn State fans just aren't up for traveling right now, and it's certainly not below them to use Sandusky as an excuse to sink the Nittany Lions in the selection processes without having to directly fisk the fans.
Oh yeah, the coaching search. We'll be focusing on that for the foreseeable immediate future here at BSD, but we now have a very clean emotional slate to start with for the search, and very little reason to not start that search immediately.