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The Great Debate

The Pacific 10 Has Won Four Of The Seven Games Against The Big Ten. Does That Make The Pac-10 The Better Conference?

September 21, 2003|Jim Rhode; Jay Christensen

POINT: First, let's say how much we miss Bo Schembechler's coming out to the Rose Bowl every other year or so and having his over-inflated Michigan teams have the air let out of them by West Coast teams he considered to be vastly inferior. That sense of tradition was revived Saturday as Lloyd Carr's big, bad Wolverines ventured from the Big House to the House That Nike Built and saw their vaunted rushing game go Duck, Duck, Goose-egg in a 31-27 loss to Oregon, which was considered to be the Pac-10's sixth- or seventh-best team going into the season. Schembechler would have had a meltdown for the ages if one of his teams had minus three yards rushing against a team with uniforms that make them look like Martians. So if the so-called elite of the bruising Big Ten can manage to ring up a rushing number usually associated with Midwest winters against a chic Pac-10 also-ran seemingly more interested in making a fashion statement than a football statement, then how would it fare against the real Leader of the Pac, USC? Push 'em back, push 'em back, waaaaaaay back to Ann Arbor.

-- Jim Rhode

COUNTERPOINT: Granted, the Pac-10 might have the edge record-wise, but in head-to-head matchups of ranked teams, the Big Ten is 2-1 against the surfer boys. The Pac-10 is all flash, all Ben and J.Lo. The Big Ten? It's meat and potatoes. In the Pac-10, it's pass, pass, pass. Teams can be up by 42 points in the third quarter and players can be heard mumbling to themselves, "We've blown bigger leads than this before." And Page 1 of any Pac-10 playbook is "The Hail Mary." Teams that play defense and run the ball win, and if you've ever attended a game in Big Ten country, fans applaud when a team runs for a first down on second and short. No wonder Woody Hayes, the former Ohio State coach, called second and short "an even better running down." God Bless Woody and God Bless the Big Ten.

-- Jay Christensen

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