There's been one constant gripe in September regarding the Big Ten Conference - it simply isn't stacking up so far. That point was the focus of a Washington Post commentary on Sunday, which, tongue-in-cheek, recommended that the Big Ten declare Notre Dame its champion and Rose Bowl representative. And ESPN provided a further, in-depth examination of the conference's woes today.
"The narrative is we've underperformed, and I can't argue with that," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN. "We haven't won big games. The narrative is about right. When you have big brands, expectations are high. I can't discount the facts, and I can't discount the critics."
The conference is a combined 33-13 in nonconference play but has struggled against BCS opponents and doesn't have a team ranked in the top 10 in either of the national polls. And some worry that winning the Big Ten will come down to backing into a spot, as opposed to earning it. Strictly conjecture ...
But Michigan continues to hand out the company line - they believe they still have a shot at winning the Big Ten title and earning a berth in the Rose Bowl, something we've been hearing since April.
Safety Thomas Gordon even used a cliche about flowers.
"We know we can still smell roses at the end of the season," Gordon said Tuesday, during Michigan's only media availability this week. "That's our focus."
And, he added, the Wolverines still haven't lost any Big Ten games yet.
This kind of thinking - or spin - has become infectious in the Big Ten. Someone has to win it, right?
After this week's bye week, Michigan opens its Big Ten schedule Oct. 6 at Purdue and Purdue coach Danny Hope, whose team has received votes in the AP Top 25 and USA TODAY coaches poll, told the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier he believes the Boilermakers can be a top 25 team.
“We’re not in the rankings right now but we feel we have a lot of people on our team that can make plays,” Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush told the Journal and Courier. “We feel like we’re a more mature team than last year and we have to prove it on the field."
“We have to go out every Saturday and take care of business and show everybody we are one of those top 25 teams.”
And finally ...
The fellows at ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" bid farewell to the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry.