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Worst B1G Team since 2000: Salem Regional, Round 1

Leaders? No. Legends? Of a type.

Home of 1-seed 2007 Minnesota Gophers

(11) 2001 Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-7/2-6 (3-7 vs. FBS) vs. (6) 2004 Indiana Hoosiers 3-8/1-7


Glen Mason led Minnesota to bowls in seven of his final eight seasons as Gopher coach. This is the story of that other season, the one where over 20% of their season scoring output came in a single game against FCS competition.

Why they were better than you think: They won the Axe for the first time in seven years, hanging 42 points on the hapless defense of fellow entrant 2001 Wisconsin! And look, the bowl-bound Michigan State Spartans left the Twin Cities with a two-score loss. Add in three one-score losses in conference play and Minnesota looks shockingly competent.

Why they were worse than you imagine: Toledo won the MAC. Losing to them on the road isn’t the worst thing. Losing to them by 31, though? And while Minnesota a pretty good Big Ten season by the standards of the rest of the field, let’s remember that that 2001 Big Ten was BAD. Only two teams ranked in the final polls bad. In this down year, the loss to fellow entrant 2001 Northwestern gives Minnesota the last place tiebreaker.


Gather round people. Let me tell you about Gerry DiNardo’s final season in Bloomington, subtitled: How to Record Multiple Wins Over Ranked Foes and Still Hugely Disappoint. This was the season DiNardo had been building toward. The offense was stocked and the Big Ten was in a down year. The stars had aligned, or so it seemed.

Why they were better than you think: A blowout over Central Michigan (Hi, Chip Kelly!) and a road win over #24 Oregon (Indiana jumped out 23-0) had Indiana off and running early. Indiana also picked up a late October home win over #24 Minnesota (in front of the smallest home crowd in decades). Notre Dame transfer Matt LoVecchio had an efficient senior campaign, especially throwing to future 3rd rounder draft pick Courtney Roby, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was around to tote the rock.

Why they were worse than you imagine: Green-Ellis averaged 3.4 ypc (and transferred after the season). Oregon ended 5-6, and Indiana went 1-8 after that win. While there were only 2 losses by 20+, with a weak Big Ten, the 3-5 Hoosier fumbled away any bowl chances by blowing a 4th quarter lead in the last minute vs. fellow entrant 2004 Illinois, which was the Illini’s only conference win. Then the next week Indiana blew a 4th quarter lead at home vs. the 2004 Penn State Nittany Lions (a near-entrant), giving Penn State their first Big Ten win after starting 0-6. All that was left was playing for pride, and the Old Oaken Bucket. Indiana lost 63-24.


Who was WORSE?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    2001 Minnesota
    (50 votes)
  • 67%
    2004 Indiana
    (106 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

(10) 2011 Minnesota 3-9/2-6 (3-8 vs. FBS) vs. (7) 2014 Indiana 4-8/1-7 (3-8 vs. FBS)


Jerry Kill’s first season went better than Tim Brewster’s, but that doesn’t mean that are no similarities. Kill did begin to leave his tough-minded imprint on the squad and they showed a willingness to struggle hard to move forward. Which is good, because they struggled a lot, and very rarely forward.

Why they were better than you think: The season began with a hard-fought 19-17 loss to a USC squad that finished the season #6 in the nation. It ended with a 27-7 blowout of the bowl-bound Illinois Fighting Illini. In between was an impress 4th quarter comeback from 21-10 down to win back Floyd of Rosedale.

Why they were worse than you imagine: Losing at home to 4-9 New Mexico State. Losing to North Dakota State. Powerhouse or no, that’s an FCS loss. And it’s not as if Minnesota showed steady improvement throughout the season. The win over Illini was the Illini’s sixth straight loss and Ron Zook was fired the next day. Four conference opponents beat the Gophers by 27+ including a 58-0 annihilation in Ann Arbor. Welcome to the Big Ten, Jerry.


Kevin Wilson’s last two teams at Indiana made bowl games. This was the team from the year before. For a number of reasons, this squad was a bit hard to seed. What do you do if a key injury might mean you’re still a bad team, but you lose by slightly less?

Why they were better than you think: A 3-2 start, which are the only five games where starting QB Nate Sudfeld threw 10 or more passes, was highlighted by a win @ #18 Missouri. Since Mizzou went on to win the SEC East and finish #14 nationally, this might be the best win of any team in the field. They also held onto the Old Oaken Bucket erasing a 4th quarter deficit and winning on a last minute TD.

Why they were worse than you imagine: Can you really say losing Sudfeld mattered? He was at the helm when the D gave up 45 points in a lost to Bowling Green. He started when Indiana politely welcomed the Maryland Terrapins to the Big Ten by losing 37-15. That loss was one of four 20+ point blowout losses in conference play. Given the defense, Peyton Manning might not have improved the win total.


Who was WORSE?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    2011 Minnesota
    (82 votes)
  • 44%
    2014 Indiana
    (65 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now

(12) 2018 Nebraska Cornhuskers 4-8/3-6 vs. (5) 2014 Purdue Boilermakers 3-9/1-7 (2-9 FBS)


Given that the 2017 Huskers are already in the field, that means this 12-seed is an at-large selection. Clearly the committee went against their general principle of emphasizing conference play as not many (any?) at-large teams could boast three conference wins. Let’s look a little deeper to see what made these Huskers bad enough to be included.

Why they were better than you think: They finished the season 4-2, 3-2 in conference play. A 53 point cannonade against P.J. Fleck’s boat rowers. 54 points against Illinois. Even the vision-damaging 9-6 victory over Sparty was (for our purposes) impressive, coming as it did against a (Redbox) bowl-caliber opponent. I’m sure Nebraska was primed for a big 2019 with the much momentum heading into the offseason.

Why they were worse than you imagine: 56-3 until garbage time against Michigan. Home losses to Troy and Colorado. There’s no shame in losing to the 2018 Northwestern Wildcats, division champions. However, maybe we should talk about blowing a ten point lead in the last six minutes, and allowing a 99-yard two-minute drive. Not everybody can wave goodbye to a 98.2% win probability. Just enough heart to erase a 15 point 4th quarter deficit to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Just bad enough to watch it go by the boards via another last minute drive surrendered. If your defense gives up 30+ eight times, then you can do damage here, no matter the seed.


Operating in the shadow of the 2013 train wreck, this group of Boilers managed to carve out some moments of their own. Most of them were regrettable, but… Hey! Is that Raheem Mostert scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl!…

Why they were better than you think: Purdue notched two wins over bowl-bound teams: a 19-point win over P.J. Fleck-helmed Western Michigan, and a road win over Illinois. The 39-38 loss @ Minnesota came against a team that was 30 minutes away from a division title. Squint hard enough, and there are moments in this season where it looks like the Boilers are building something.

Why they were worse than you imagine: None of those moments came during the 0-4 November finish where Purdue averaged 15.0 ppg and didn’t top 16 in any of them. The season ended by blowing a 4th quarter lead to fellow entrant 2014 Indiana, who was led by their backup QB and entered the game 0-7 in conference play.


Who was WORSE?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    2018 Nebraska
    (121 votes)
  • 46%
    2014 Purdue
    (107 votes)
228 votes total Vote Now

(9) 2010 Indiana 5-7/1-7 (4-7 vs. FBS) vs. (8) 2009 Michigan Wolverines 5-7/1-7 (4-7 vs. FBS)


While the 5-7 record suggests a reasonably solid team, it was the last year of Bill Lynch’s tenure. A gander at the 2011 Hoosiers might help explain why that was, but, really, there’s enough in the 2010 performance alone to show why there is less here than meets the eye.

Why they were better than you think: They won the Old Oaken Bucket with a stirring OT win over Purdue. This matters, and helped soften the blow when Lynch was let go the next day. The 4-0 non-conference record and 40 ppg average in those games really does look nice. QB Ben Chappell had a huge year (3,200 yds, 24:9 TD:INT).

Why they were worse than you imagine: The non-conference opposition featured FCS Towson and three FBS teams that combined to go 7-29. Purdue was 4-8. The 2010 Wisconsin Badgers won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl, but it could be the 2007 Patriots on the other side of the field. YOU DO NOT GIVE UP 83 POINTS IN A GAME AND GET TO AVOID THIS TOURNAMENT.


With mirror image records, this looks like a complete tossup. Michigan didn’t surrender 83 points to anybody—in fact, their worst two defensive performances only total 83 points—but they found their own way to 5-7.

Why they were better than you think: The 4-0 start was very nice. Who says no to a last second win over Notre Dame? A 4th quarter comeback against Indiana to start the Big Ten season? And then, at 4-0, ranked #22, you erase a 14 point 4th quarter lead @ rival Michigan State? Rich Rodriguez has this team pointed in the right direction!

Why they were worse than you imagine: Wait. Why do you need a 4th quarter comeback to beat Indiana? That game was in the Big House??? And then you lost to Sparty in OT anyway. Fellow entrant 2009 Illinois beat you by 25 points? The 63-6 win over FCS Delaware State only makes the rest of October/November all the more embarrassing. Delaware State? This team was three minutes away from a winless Big Ten season.


Who was WORSE?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    2010 Indiana
    (51 votes)
  • 66%
    2009 Michigan
    (103 votes)
154 votes total Vote Now