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Success of Michigan State, Ohio State a boost to entire conference

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been a good week for fans of Ohio State and Michigan State.

The two Big Ten programs have garnered quite a bit of respect so far. On Monday, NFL.com released its list of college football’s 15 best teams -- and Ohio State finished No. 1, while Michigan State was No. 3. On Tuesday, CBS.com ranked every program based on its success in major sports -- football was heavily weighted -- and the Buckeyes once again finished No. 1, while the Spartans wound up at No. 6.

Neither fan base is probably particularly surprised. The Buckeyes deserve all the recognition coming their way after a third-string quarterback won the national title. And the Spartans are still probably smiling after Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh eschewed that outdated “Little Brother” talk two months ago and called MSU the “biggest guy on the block.”

It truly is amazing to see how quickly everything’s changed in the B1G over the course of 10 short months.

In early September, commissioner Jim Delany was forced to answer difficult questions about the conference’s top teams. He rightly labeled the B1G’s performance “disappointing” after Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all lost on the same day, with Northwestern and Purdue falling to MAC opponents. He was forced to address the B1G’s then-8-29 record against ranked Power 5 teams since 2010. He searched for answers as to why the B1G hadn’t won a national title since 2002 and said the conference still had more work to do.

“But,” he added at the time, “it’s at a stage where the narrative is still developing.”

Boy, did it ever. Ohio State is at the top of every imaginable list now, from ESPN.com’s Future Power Rankings to Las Vegas’ odds of winning the next national title to Sports Illustrated’s Post-Spring Power Rankings. Michigan State isn’t far behind on most other lists, too.

Ten months ago, you would’ve been crazy to predict all this. Who would’ve guessed that news outlets would start asking themselves if the B1G East is the best in college football? (Or that some would answer that question with a “Yes” or “Soon”?) Who would’ve projected 108 recruit commitments just in the month of June? Who would’ve thought Maryland coach Randy Edsall would one day say, with a straight face, that the East will be the “toughest division in all of college football”?

With every new list that comes out -- with the Buckeyes and Spartans near the top -- the entire conference receives a boost. So, although Ohio State and Michigan State fans should be happy this week, so should the rest of the Big Ten.

To build off what Delany said back in September, that narrative of B1G success has only just begun.