|Badgers RB Montee Ball rushed for 100 yards in the Rose Bowl but lost for the third straight year in Pasadena. (US Presswire)|
News from around the Big Ten:
- How will Badgers senior RB Montee Ball be remembered; the NCAA-leader in total career touchdowns with 83, or a three-time Rose Bowl loser? Ball gained 100 yards in Tuesday's loss to Stanford and became the first college football player to ever score touchdowns in three Rose Bowls. But he also never won a BCS game, coming up short the past three years. “This is not the way I wanted to be remembered,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The loss caps a tumultuous year for Ball which started with a concussion stemming from a preseason assault, saw his head coach depart after winning a conference championship, and also had the senior RB win the Doak Walker Award given to the nation's top back. When mulling jumping to the draft after last season, he was projected as a third-round pick, but some scouts have him higher after this season's performance.
- At 8-5, the Wolverines' season, which came to an end Tuesday after losing 33-28 to South Carolina, was an unmitigated failure in coach Brady Hoke's second year. The Wolverines' preseason goal was to snap a seven-year conference championship drought, but instead it ended with yet another loss to a highly respected opponent on a national stage. With Devin Gardner under center and Denard Robinson lined up as a hybrid-back, Hoke threw numerous wrinkles into the Wolverines offense which South Carolina couldn't have scouted. Gardner threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and Robinson rushed for 100 yards, begging the question was Robinson used properly for the majority of his Michigan career? “What might have been,” the Detroit Free Press wrote, “had Hoke exhibited the same flexibility in personnel and daring in play-calling as he did against South Carolina when the Wolverines played in games with actual national ramifications over the last two years?”
- When asked about Northwestern's dubious nine-game bowl losing streak before the Gator Bowl, coach Pat Fitzgerald played dumb, telling ESPN, “I don't know what you're talking about,” but after Tuesday's 34-20 win over Mississippi State, he no longer has to field those questions. “The last negative we needed to erase,” he told the Chicago Tribune. Behind a four-interception performance and one of the most effective spread offenses the Big Ten has to offer, the Wildcats snapped the 63-year bowl drought. Kain Colter threw for 76 yards and rushed for 71 more and speedy RB Venric Mark tallied 56 yards and a touchdown as well. But it was the defense, whose first-quarter pick-6 from DL Quentin Williams less than a minute into the game, set the tone for the performance.
- Nebraska's 45-31 loss to Georgia looked more like an Olympic sprint than a rugged defensive battle featuring two top-27 defenses. The Bulldogs yielded 31 points just twice throughout the season, but Nebraska's defense was even more porous. Even after yielding nearly 600 yards of offense, coach Bo Pelini was optimistic about his team. “I don't think we're far away [from a championship-caliber team]. We'll be a better football team next year -- I believe that,” he told the Journal Star. The question is, do you Bo-lieve him?
- The fact that the Boilermakers are in transition-mode was painfully evident in Tuesday's 58-14 clobbering at the hands of Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Interim coach Patrick Higgins was replacing the fired Danny Hope, and the program was anxiously waiting for incoming coach Darrell Hazell to wrap up his responsibilities to Kent State (after Jan. 6) and assume his new role in West Lafayette. “It kills,” CB Ricardo Allen told the Journal and Courier of the rout. “We worked so hard for this game … and you come out and do an embarrassing thing like this. We embarrassed Purdue and we embarrassed our community. My offseason starts tomorrow.”
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.