Disaster strikes earlier for B1G this year

The Big Ten didn't wait until New Year's Day to endure its national flogging. The league assumed the position in Week 2.

If Jan. 1, 2011, was the worst on-field date in league history -- Big Ten teams went 0-5 in bowls, including a Wisconsin loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl -- Saturday came pretty close to the worst regular-season date on record.

It began with Penn State missing field goals in Virginia and ended with a short-handed Illinois team getting toasted in the desert. In between, the reigning Big Ten champion, Wisconsin, came less than two minutes away from being shut out by a seemingly benign Oregon State squad. A Bo Pelini-coached Nebraska squad couldn't stop UCLA, while Iowa couldn't score a touchdown on its home field against Iowa State.

After an unimpressive but not completely disastrous Week 1 performance -- the Big Ten went 10-2 and split its showcase games against Alabama and Boise State -- it wasn't front and center on the national radar entering Saturday. But an unusual slate of contests -- seven true road games, including three in Pac-12 territory, where the league has struggled mightily the past two decades -- created the potential for extremes. As has been the case all too often in recent seasons, the Big Ten ended up with an extreme embarrassment, going 6-6.

The league went 1-6 against teams from major conferences plus Notre Dame, as Northwestern's come-from-behind win against SEC member Vanderbilt marked the lone bright spot. The next most "impressive" wins came against the likes of UCF (Ohio State) and Air Force (Michigan).

Read the rest of my piece in College GameDay Final.