Ohio State Football: Stakes are high for Big Ten’s bowl season

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 18: Damon Webb /

How well conference teams play during the bowl season, especially those at the top like Ohio State, will determine how the Big Ten is perceived.

The Big Ten failed to make the College Football Playoff for the first time when conference champion Ohio State was left out, but there is something more important on the line this year.  Pride.

The stakes are high for the conference and it is gut check time.

Truth is the Big Ten has an image problem when it comes to conference strength top to bottom.  There is no sugar-coating the recent results.

In the playoffs, Michigan State lost to Alabama 38-0 in 2015 and Ohio State was embarrassed by Clemson 31-0 last year.

Coupled with Penn State’s thrilling loss to USC in the Rose Bowl and Michigan losing to Florida State in the Orange Bowl, the conference heavyweights went 0-4 on the national stage.

Fast forward to this season and the results are pretty much the same.

The best non-conference wins this year were Maryland over Texas, Iowa over Iowa State, Indiana over Virginia and Purdue over Missouri.  Not exactly highlight wins.

The daggers were the Spartans getting thumped by Notre Dame and the Buckeyes falling flat against the Sooners.

Northwestern couldn’t hang with Duke, but somehow managed to win eight in a row in the Big Ten.

Penn State, which arguably has the best running back and quarterback, could not beat the Buckeyes or Spartans.  They could not run the ball either which killed their chances.

Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers failed to become bowl eligible.

If the conference wants respect, it must earn it on the field, not through its legacy.

More from Scarlet and Game

The good news is failing to put a team in the playoff positions the conference favorably for a change in their bowl matchups.

I believe the Big Ten’s bowl seasons were disrupted by sending the wrong team to the playoff over the last two years.

Ohio State was better than Michigan State two years ago and Penn State was playing way better than the Buckeyes last year.

Nonetheless, the conference cannot change the past, but only focus on dominating this bowl season.

The Big Ten has four games against the Pac-12, two against the ACC and two against the SEC.  The teams are favored in six.

Urban Meyer, James Franklin, Paul Chryst, Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh must rally their teams and restore the Big Ten’s image as a power conference.

Next: New recruit raises questions about QB situation

Anything less and next December the conference will be left in the cold again.