If we're going to grade every Big Ten team's regular season, as we began doing today, then it's only fair that we turn the red pen on ourselves.
Back in late August, Adam and I each offered three bold predictions for the 2012 season. Let's see how we fared:
Brian Bennett's bold predictions
1. "The Big Ten's run of BCS at-large bids comes to an end. The only two teams that finish with fewer than three losses are Michigan State, which goes to the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State, which is ineligible for the postseason. The SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 all get BCS at-large bids." Verdict: Replace that part about Michigan State, and this isn't too bad. The Big Ten's streak of seven straight at-large bids did end this season, and only one team -- those Buckeyes -- finished with fewer than three losses. The Big 12 did not get an at-large bid, but very few people saw Notre Dame and Northern Illinois clinching automatic passes to the BCS.
2. "Purdue stuns Wisconsin at home but can't keep up the momentum, coming up one game short of earning the Leaders Division title." Verdict: Um, not so much. The Boilermakers lost 38-14 to the Badgers, and the game was more lopsided than the score suggests. Purdue did finish one game behind Wisconsin in the Leaders standings but would have lost the head-to-head tiebreaker, anyway.
3. "Nebraska turns the tables on Michigan and Wisconsin, avenging last year's blowout losses by beating both at home. But the Huskers lose their final game at Iowa and are eliminated from the division-title hunt." Verdict: If only I hadn't written that second sentence. Nebraska did beat both Michigan and Wisconsin but won the Legends Division. And though Iowa did throw a scare into the Huskers in the finale, losing 13-7 on a windy day in Kinnick Stadium, the Hawkeyes were hardly spoilers to anyone but their own fans.
Adam Rittenberg's bold predictions
1. "Michigan rallies from back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Nebraska to win its final three games, including an overtime thriller at Ohio State. The Wolverines then punctuate their season with an impressive victory against LSU in the Capital One Bowl." Verdict: A little off, to say the least. Michigan didn't lose to Michigan State, though that game was extremely close, and didn't win at Ohio State. The Wolverines will play an SEC team in Florida, but it will be South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
2. "Speaking of the bowls, the Big Ten redeems itself on New Year's Day with a 4-1 record, including a Michigan State victory in the Rose Bowl. Northwestern also records its first bowl win since 1949 in the TicketCity Bowl. The Big Ten records just its second winning bowl performance since the 2002 season." -- Verdict: This one is still possible, except of course for the Michigan State part and the wrong Northwestern bowl. But looking at the actual New Year's Day matchups, I doubt Adam would still predict a winning record, much less a 4-1 mark. We shall see.
3. "Michigan State rallies to win the title game, thanks in part to Mike Sadler doing his best Brad Nortman impression and flopping on a punt, drawing a penalty on the Badgers late in the fourth quarter. Le'Veon Bell rushes for 200 yards in the victory." Verdict: Only in an alternate universe.
So there you have it. Not exactly a banner year for the Big Ten or for our bold predictions. Like the league, we hope to redeem ourselves in bowl season.