Michigan (A) The Wolverines looked rested, beating a Florida team it should beat 9 out of 10 times, and doing it with panache and power. Good for recruiting, good for highlight fodder, good for 2016 inspiration.
Wisconsin (A) The game was a toss-up, but Wisconsin felt like a better coached team with an improving O-Line. So you get to resume "win over USC", move into the Top25, pick up that double-digit win season...Great finish to the season.
OSU (A-) The Bucks did what we know they're all capable of, 500 yards of total offense and big plays from its superstars. I'm not giving the full "A" grade because:
- Joey Bosa gahhh targeting oddness
- That mega-talented D gave up a lot of real estate...
- Why didn't you just play a normal game against Sparty, get the home win, and match up better than MSU??!
Nebraska (A) And they won a close game!
Minnesota (B) Allowed the B1G to have a .500 record, which judging by some past years, is a big win...
Indiana (B) The Hoosier's are in a bowl! Scoring points! Racking up offensive yards (oh my that O-Line)! Getting screwed by the refs! There is excitement in Whoville! Whenever, if ever, the Hoosiers find a defense, we're going to watch some good games in Bloomington.
Penn State (C) Lost, but didn't get blown out. Not a very good football team, playing against a similar mediocre team, almost won this game anyway. I think many PSU fans counted this season as a lost one awhile ago and just watched in apathy.
Northwestern (D) Didn't have any answers for Tennessee and gave the game away on TO's.
Iowa (D) Outclassed, slower, but fought to the end.
MSU (D) Played a way better version of itself; would have needed a flawless performance against a hot Alabama team to win. However - I wasn't impressed by the offensive playcalling. You know 'Bama's front 7 is jacked and loaded, but you run into the teeth of them right off the bat. I don't recall many jet sweeps or screens from the Spartans to mix things up.
So the biggest wins of the Big Ten's bowl season were over Florida, USC, UCLA, and Notre Dame. How about that? Digging deeper, we see some of those wins aren't that impressive, but it's the offseason and hyperbole is all we have for 7 months or so.
Th Big Ten's ability to not entirely squander this bowl season does have a positive impact. As I consistently argue, the national image of Big Ten football is more important now than ever. The Big Ten champ, as it stands now, will always get an invite to the College Football Playoffs. One terrible CFP loss will not doom or denigrate the Big Ten's chances to keep placing its top teams in top bowl games. Now if the CFP and big bowl blowouts continue next year, questions will be asked. But 5-5 with big wins from big programs will keep the Big Ten on solid footing nationally.