November 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Matt Charboneau

Mediocrity all the way to Big Ten title game

Ah, what a week it was for the Big Ten.

Not only did it force college football to once again start contemplating the headache that is expansion when it welcomed Maryland and Rutgers into the fold, it capped off quite a remarkable season on the field, as well.

Remarkable in the sense that absolutely nothing happened for the conference to hang its hat on. That is, unless mediocrity counts.

The conference championship game will be played Saturday between Nebraska and Wisconsin, two teams that will do nothing to shake up the BCS lineup or strike fear in absolutely no one.

Nebraska is a fairly solid team that played some weeks with the dreaded 12th man — yes, that's a shot at the horrific officiating in more than one of the Huskers' victories — while Wisconsin is essentially only the third-best team in its own division.

It's fitting, really, that this is how the regular season ended for the Big Ten. It has been the whipping boy of the major conferences all season, starting with an abysmal run in non-conference play.

It was capped by the fact its best team — Ohio State — will be sitting home in the postseason, hoping everyone applauds its perfect 12-0 record while forgetting the fact it cheated to get to this point.

"At this point in time, Ohio State can go and play with anybody in America," OSU first-year coach Urban Meyer said. "I wouldn't say that five weeks ago, but you've seen the growth, what we did today and the growth of our defense."

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, there will be no bailout coming from the Big Ten offices. The conniving that got Ohio State to play in the Sugar Bowl two seasons ago with a group of players that played a big part in the current suspension won't happen again, though I wouldn't put it past Jim Delany and his crew to give it a shot.

This shouldn't discount the season the Buckeyes had. It was impressive.

There will be no national title this year, but it's still hard to look down your nose at a perfect season, one the Associated Press voters might reward with a No. 1 ranking.

"I'm not going to get into the what-ifs," he said. "You can't control what you can't control. ... We're 12-0 and I'm going to see to it when you walk into that Woody Hayes (practice) facility that this team will never be forgotten. Because they deserve that."

That they do, the same way the rest of the conference deserves to be called out for simply not being very good.

Badgers get 2nd crack at Huskers

We're not done with you yet, Badgers.

The chest-beating is probably loud and proud in Madison these days, eh?

Could the Badgers have had a better season to lose three straight games in overtime? Wisconsin gets to take its 4-4 conference record to the Big Ten Championship game Saturday.

The Badgers have the potential to close the season with four straight losses, when including the conference title game and a bowl game.

Maybe I'm too harsh on the Badgers. They did play every game close, coming up just short more often than not (sound familiar, Spartan fans?).

And much like last season, Wisconsin will have a rallying cry headed to Indy.

In 2011, the Badgers were out to avenge a loss to Michigan State. This time, they will be doing the same with Nebraska.

Penn State feeling good

How about the finish for Penn State?

Think back to the first two weeks of the season when the Nittany Lions were 0-2 and seemed to be well on their way to a miserable season.

But on Saturday, 31 seniors capped their careers with an overtime victory over Wisconsin and an 8-4 season. There will be no bowl game for Penn State, not after the NCAA dropped a four-year ban on the Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

"When you've been in a losing locker room at the end of the season, it's a horrible feeling," first-year coach Bill O'Brien said. "When you've been in a winning locker room at the end of the season, it's a euphoric feeling. I feel really good for these kids."

mcharboneau@detnews.com

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Nebraska might win the Big Ten title, but it is a non-factor in the BCS race. / Associated Press
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