Northwestern Gets Taken “Out Back”

The Outback Bowl was probably the second ugliest game of this bowl season only behind the Cotton Bowl thrashing that was put on Michigan State at the hands of Alabama. Northwestern had a ball intercepted at the goal line and returned 100-yards to close the game out 45-6. Northwestern threw four interceptions, lost a fumble and caused no turnovers of their own. To sum up this game in one word is to say it was gruesome.

Now while talking about this lopsided defeat to a team that was a lower ranked than Northwestern isn’t the point of this article. The point of this article is to talk about how successful a season Northwestern had and just how dominant the SEC has been this bowl season.

Northwestern to their credit had their first double digit win season under Pat Fitzgerald and got themselves into contention for a berth in the BIG 10 Championship Game. They had a couple marquee wins against such big name opponents as Stanford on opening day and at Wisconsin. Northwestern had the seventh ranked team defense in the country at 16.4 PPG while also boasting one of the best ground games in the BIG 10 led by 1400 yard RB Justin Jackson.

It was a definite improvement in terms of Fitzgerald’s overall success at the school and hopefully it can boost television ratings and exposure for the school so that they can get some better recruits. However Northwestern’s never going to be a dominant football power. Perhaps best case scenario they could win a BIG 10 title at the height, but never will they stand with the likes of an SEC power. Tennessee is considered in the weaker of the two SEC divisions on the east side and they absolutely demoralized a 10-2 BIG 10 team. The BIG 10 champion got its doors blown off by Alabama and the SEC has seemed to try and right the wrongs of the past couple years in terms of bowl participation this holiday season.

For the people who think that Clemson is going to beat Alabama are insane, for people who think the SEC isn’t the difference between the Single-A baseball and Triple-A baseball are clueless. The SEC but for two games has won every game, and not only that but have won every game except one by more than three touchdowns. The SEC against the spread in this bowl season is 8-2. The only two games the conference lost against the spread were games that the teams lost outright.

The SEC is being so dominant right now that next year the conference itself could place all their participants in the preseason top-25. It’s sad to see Northwestern get crushed like they did, but at least they’re not the only ones. Oklahoma St. had won their first ten games in a row, they lost to Ole Miss who was four spots lower than them in the rankings by four touchdowns, and this isn’t the only example. Northwestern was ten spots higher than Tennessee and had at one point beaten the eventual Rose Bowl Champion who had a Hesiman Finalist in the game by double digits. The SEC is making College Football as a whole look ridiculous by degrees of separation.

It’s nice that Northwestern had a successful year, and hopefully they can build on that momentum, but right now watching the SEC verse anyone is like watching two different classes of teams in European Soccer.