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Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Irish shovel last bit of dirt on Big Ten's grave

Ugly losses to Notre Dame and Alabama aren't the start to the year Brady Hoke envisioned. (Getty Images)

The worst nonconference performance by the Big Ten in recent history, perhaps even not-so-recent history, came to a close under a flurry of Denard Robinson turnovers in a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame.

Michigan also set the tone for this miserable month with a 41-14 pasting by Alabama in Dallas to start the season. That was a rough night for Robinson also, more for the beating he took than the mistakes he made.

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Tonight was all about the mistakes. Michigan turned it over six times, on consecutive possessions. Robinson threw only four passes in the second quarter, and all of them were intercepted. In the first quarter, the Wolverines got to the Irish 10-yard line twice, only to come away with no points. On the first Michigan possession of the third quarter, Robinson showed another side of his game by fumbling the ball away, again inside the Notre Dame 10-yard-line.

The Irish weren't overly sharp either, but did take enough advantage to complete the sweep of the Big Ten portion of its schedule.

Michigan isn't solely to blame for the Big Ten's woes this month. Nearly everybody contributed to the malaise.

Illinois lost at Arizona State and at home to Louisiana Tech by a combined 59 points.

Indiana lost to Ball State, probably should have lost to Indiana State, and lost its quarterback in a win over UMass.

It took Iowa until Saturday to finally get a passing touchdown, for all the good it did. It lost to Central Michigan anyway.

Michigan State was totally outclassed by the Irish and let Eastern Michigan put a scare into it. We'll have to give the Spartans a break, though. They have far and away the most impressive win so far with the season-opening defeat of Boise State.

Oregon State won at UCLA, but Nebraska could not. The Beavers also shut down Wisconsin, which cost the offensive line coach his job. The Badgers have been the biggest disappointment, even though that is their only loss. Utah State missed a potential game-winning field goal last week in Madison.

Here's how bad things are for the Big Ten. A brief survey in the Notre Dame press box Saturday told me that Purdue is considered a favorite, if not the favorite, to win the Big Ten at this point. Maybe that's because Purdue played the Irish toughest among their Big Ten foes. I mean, the Boilermakers aren't bad. Their defensive line stacks up with almost anybody's. They have a couple of corners that will probably play on Sundays. But any other year -- ANY other year -- this Purdue team is an also-ran just hoping to play in any bowl at all. Now, they are thinking Roses.

Note: I know Purdue and Indiana both have a nonconference game remaining, but beating Marshall and Navy doesn't exactly make a statement.

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