I'm Cheering for USC...and So Should You

There is huge myth that in order for the Big Ten to be considered a great conference, Ohio State needs to win this weekend. Most people I talk to tell me that I need to root for them against USC, or else I am not worthy of being considered a Big Ten fan.

Now its not a secret that in the top 25, the Big Ten is vastly under-represented. Part of that is honest-to-goodness objective opinions of the media and coaches. Big Ten teams, by-in-large are just not as good as their counterparts from other conferences head-to-head. The rest of it is the misconception that the Big Ten is just inferior by default. Which I whole-heartily disagree with.

Now, this weekend, when tOSU lines up to play against USC, I will most certainly be cheering for the Trojans. Why? Because who wins this game does nothing for the Big Ten argument. I have no allegiances to other Big Ten schools. The rest of them could lose every out-of-conference game. I don't care. I'm a Michigan fan, not a Big Ten fan.

But for the Big Ten to really start to be taken seriously as a top-tier conference again, they need all 11 schools to be better. Not just the top 3 or 4.

From top to bottom, the Big Ten is pretty weak. At the top...Michigan, tOSU, Penn State and Wisconsin can typically hold their own against out-of-conference teams. Win or lose, most people on the national level will still have respect for those schools. But it's the meat of the conference that really holds the Big Ten back.

Schools like Iowa, Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota are the ones not really doing the Big Ten any favors. Once in a while, one of those schools will do something great, but for the most part, they just constantly stub their toes on a national level against other big-conference opponents. Let's take a look back to 2003 for each school at high-profile OOC games.

This includes games against opponents from the Big 12, Pac-10, SEC, ACC and Notre Dame

Michigan State
@ California, L 31-38
@ Notre Dame, W 31-14
Bowl- Boston College, L 21-24
Notre Dame, L 37-40
@ Notre Dame, W 44-41
Notre Dame, L 21-34
@ Notre Dame, W 22-16
Bowl- Nebraska, L 3-17

Total: 3-5

@ Iowa State, L 13-15
Iowa State, W 21-17
Bowl- Texas, L 24-26
@ Iowa State, L 3-23
Bowl- Florida, L 24-31
Iowa State, W 17-10
@Arizona State, L 7-44
Bowl- LSU, W 30-25
@ Iowa State, W 40-21
Arizona State, W 21-2
Bowl- Florida, W 31-17

Total: 6-5

@ Missouri, L 42-52
Missouri, L 34-40
Bowl- USC, L 17-49
@ California, L 20-35
UCLA, L 17-35
@ Missouri, L 15-22
@ UCLA, L 3-6
California, L 24-31

Total: 0-8

Notre Dame, W 33-19
@ Notre Dame, L 21-35
Bowl- Maryland, L 7-24
@ Arizona, W 49-24
Notre Dame, L 28-49
@ Notre Dame, W 41-16
Bowl- Arizona State, L 23-27
@ Wake Forest, W 16-10
Arizona, W 59-7
Notre Dame, W 23-10
Bowl- Georgia, L 27-34

Total: 6-5

@ California, L 17-42
Bowl- Texas Tech, L 41-44
Bowl- Virginia, L 31-34
Bowl- Alabama, W 20-16
Bowl- Oregon, W 31-30

Total: 2-3

Thats a combined total of 17-26, a 0.40 winning percentage. Interestingly enough, the top 4 teams of the Big Ten (Michigan, tOSU, Wisconsin and Penn State) have played almost the same number of OOC games against those same top four conferences...41 since 2003. Among the top Big Ten teams, they are 23-18, a 0.56 winning percentage.

It's not a glorious %, but it is food for thought. Of course that takes into account bowl games. And you can argue that the top Big Ten teams tend to schedule better OOC opponents...on average.

Either way, it is clear to me that the middle of the Big Ten needs to step it up. So this weekend when you get the urge to cheer for tOSU, don't. They'll be fine. Their reputation is intact. Instead, cheer for Purdue vs Oregon, or Iowa vs Iowa State. Those games, if enough of them start to pile up, will do much more for the reputation of the Big Ten than a tOSU win over USC.

Although, a Michigan win over the Irish does everybody good! Go Blue!

Correction: A commenter (Ground Zero East Lansing) pointed out my oversight. Little brother was one of the 9 teams that took the Irish out to the woodshed in 2007. Still doesn't change my argument, but thanks for pointing it out.


  1. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Yeah, you sorta forgot to write about Appalachian State.

  2. I've got a problem with your methodology. Notre Dame is a big game for Purdue in 2007, but not for Michigan State? Sticking with Michigan State (mainly because that's where my expertise is), they beat Pitt in '06 and '07. Even though Iowa-ISU is a rivalry game, Pitt is at least the same caliber as ISU, even though they are from the Big East.

    And yes, that means you can add MSU's loss against Rutgers in '04 as well.

  3. Anonymous5:14 AM

    There is a saying and it goes like this, "The Enemy of your Enemy is your Friend."

    Where ever does it say that being a Michigan fan means you have to be a supporter of the Big 10? I don't have allegiance to a conference. The big 10 doesn't give me joy. Michigan does. Ohio state gives me indigestion and the runs when they win. The only way to keep my bowels working properly is for OSU to lose and lose horribly. USC needs to humiliate OSU in South Central. USC has to make it look like OSU not only got mugged and pistol whipped but then have OSU go through a drive by shooting where M1 Abrams Tanks were used using uranium depleted shells. I want the beating to be so bad that the OSU team and Jim Tressel would rather have ran around the coliseum for an hour in pink leotards than have played the game. I want OSU to lose to such a degree that makes Tressel think about retirement. I want OSU to lose so horribly and have Boeckman and TP thrashed so badly like a Pitbull mauling off an arm of an intruder that it gives them the yips. I want to see OSU in such confusion that they aren't even aware that they are lining up on the wrong side of the ball. Hopefully I have made my point.

  4. Anonymous12:11 AM

    Just the same for the ND/Michigan game this weekend. Let's go Irish! And I'm a PSU fan who hates Michigan as much as an OSU fan does.