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East vs. West: Who is the Best?

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In which we revive everyone’s favorite p*ssing match for a very special bowl game edition.

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami
If someone took a photo of me from this angle, I’d Liam Neeson them.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing we love here at OTE, it’s endlessly rehashed unresolveable points of debate. Old Bowl System or new? Expand the playoff or not? Who should the Big Ten target if the conference expands? Sunrise, sunset.

Among this pantheon of Great Conundrums is the age-old* debate surrounding the relative strength of the Big Ten’s two divisions. It’s indisputable that the East has had a greater magnitude of success than the West, thanks to Ohio State and to a lesser extent, Michigan State. But beyond that, the debate intensifies. Does having greater overall parity in the West, even if that parity is thoroughly mediocre, outweigh the more unbalanced programs of the East? (I mean unbalanced competitively, not Jim Harbaugh.) Does one Rutgers equal one Illinois, or is Rutgers a special penalty unto itself? No one knows—and since most of this can’t really be settled, the fight continues to flare up, week after week, mailbag after mailbag.

*where age-old = five years

That’s what makes this year’s bowl results so very interesting. In terms of straight-up record, the West clearly bested the East. Easy enough, right? But not so fast, counter others. OSU’s big win was in a higher profile than anything the West managed. And the horror movie starring Purdue might be worth more than a single demerit.

And so, dear readers, we offer this to you for your fight piece today—what did the bowl results tell us about the relative strengths of the Big Ten’s divisions? Anything new? Or was this the simple result of the West drawing better match-ups than the East? Take a gander at the results, and then get your hineys down to the comments to “Yeah, but your team” it out.

The West

Minnesota 34 - Georgia Tech 10 (ACC) - Quicklane Bowl

  • Margin of victory = 24 points

Wisconsin 35 - Miami 3 (ACC) - Pinstripe Bowl

  • Margin of victory = 32 points

Purdue 14 - Auburn 63 (SEC) - Music City Bowl

  • Margin of defeat = just massive

Northwestern 31 - Utah 20 (Pac-12) - Holiday Bowl

  • Margin of victory = 11 points

Iowa 27 - Mississippi State 22 (SEC) - Outback Bowl

Number of teams in bowls: 5

Bowl record: 4-1

Victories over SEC: 1

Embarrassing performances: 1

The East

Michigan 15 - Florida 41 (SEC) - Peach Bowl

  • Margin of defeat = 26 points

Michigan State 6 - Oregon 7 (Pac-12) - Redbox Bowl

  • Margin of defeat = 1 point

Penn State 24 - Kentucky 27 (SEC) - Citrus Bowl

  • Margin of defeat = 3 points

Ohio State 28 - Washington 23 (Pac-12) - Rose Bowl

  • Margin of victory = 5 points

Number of teams in bowls: 4

Bowl record: 1-3

Victories over SEC: 0

Embarrassing performances: 1

Poll

Which division is best?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    West is Best
    (229 votes)
  • 7%
    East is Sweet
    (43 votes)
  • 51%
    lol @ Michigan
    (288 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now