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Last Call Drinks Port, Talks Nielsen Ratings, Recruiting Hot Spots, and the Senior Bowl

For the second time in as many weeks the Columbus skyline is blanketed in the soft ferocity of a Winter Storm Warning.  As long as we're iced in, let's handle the week in review:

Esq_bullet_medium Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?  It's no secret that the Big Ten is the organizational equivalent of a flat-chested, freckled Seventh-grader with clear braces.  But, just like Rachel Leigh Cook's character in She's All That, it turns out that the brunette with brains is also a bombshell, in the ratings department.  As the Big 10 Network reports "[d]espite a down season and several unfavorable bowl matchups, the conference still managed to produce four of the seven highest-rated bowls."

For those of you visiting from SEC country, 57% of the best bowl tune-ins came when our white knights suited up. 

BTN goes on to say that the Rose Bowl received the second-highest final Nielsen rating (11.73), behind only the BCS National Championship Game, the Fiesta Bowl earned an 11.6 overnight Nielsen rating (FOX's best ever for a non national championship BCS game), and Michigan State's Capital One Bowl appearance ranked fifth among all bowls this season.

Even Wisconsin, who laid down to take an good ol' boys thrashing by FSU, charted a 5.20 rating (seventh among all bowls) and enticed 5.10 million households to tune in -- making the Champs the second-most watched ESPN bowl in history.

This is especially interesting, since -- as BTN addresses -- the Big Ten made about the messiest bowl bed you could lie in -- clinging to a blowout slate of mismatches, and negative spreads. 

How does a rationalist even begin to explain it?

It's simple.  We're freaking popular.  Really, really popular.  Like that dumbass who cheated off you in ninth grade algebra who went to Princeton on a rowing scholarship, we're grandfathered in.  Want proof?

1. We've got three of the four largest capacity stadiums in the country (Michigan Stadium, Ohio Stadium, Beaver Stadium).

2. We've got our own television network.  (No, having NBC and ESPN by the contractual balls is not the same thing.)

3. We're rich.  (Despite wading through a swampy 1-6 posteason, The Big Ten tied with the Big 12 and SEC for BCS revenue intake).

I'd suggest the feverous devotion of Midwestern fans stems from our idyllic insularity.  Football is about the only thing we do that garners national attention, and we live and breath it. 

Esq_bullet_medium Fertile Crescent?  While Florida, California, and Texas are presently the recruiting equivalent of the Garden of Eden when it comes to mainstay talent, the Rust Belt is also bearing fruit.  According to Sports Illustrated, in a survey of BCS recruits by state from 2004-08, four Big Ten states are a big deal.  Not surprisingly, they include Ohio (5th overall), Pennsylvania (6th overall), Illinois (11th overall), and Michigan (14th overall).

Read about the worst place to pick up a tan, and talent after the break.

What's the palest place to mine precious minerals in Big Ten Country?

That would be Wisconsin, which places 30th in the state recruiting race.  (Iowa's not exactly blowing anyone away at 29th, either).

Esq_bullet_medium Ohio State gets rejected by No. 5 all purpose quarterback Tajh Boyd who opted to start as signal caller at Clemson instead.  While the Buckeyes do technically need to add another man behind center to back up TP and Joe Bauserman, Boyd's decision isn't much of a surprise.  He'll have to opportunity to make an immediate impact for the Tigers, possibly as a starter.

The last time the Buckeyes lost to Clemson things got a little ugly.  Count on Jim Tressel to refrain from clocking the kid in the jugular.

Esq_bullet_medium The South beats the North again in something that doesn't really matter.  Let by Pat White, John Parker Wilson, and some guy named John Wilkes Booth, the Southerns seceded in besting the North 35-18 in this year's Senior Bowl.  W.T. Sherman asked me to point out that they failed to kill even a single Northerner in the process.