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Michigan Loss Puts a Ton of Pressure on New Year's Day Success for Big Ten

No pressure at all for the four of you representing the Big Ten on New Year's Day—just go 4-0 against the SEC and Pac-12; it isn't that hard.

That's exactly the task facing the Big Ten if it wants to guarantee a winning bowl record this season. 

After a 31-14 loss by Michigan to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday, the Big Ten's back is against the wall, sitting at 0-2 to start the bowl game season.

It's been a struggle to get to .500 or better for the conference in the past—and that was without digging itself an 0-2 hole. 

The last time the Big Ten started this bad in bowl season was in 2008 and hint, it didn't end well.

The Big Ten finished that bowl season a lowly 1-6, with Iowa beating South Carolina in the Outback Bowl for the only win. 

All that's facing the Big Ten this time around is the proposition of beating the No. 5, No. 9, No. 16 and No. 22 teams in the country on New Year's Day. 

You'd be forgiven for being more than skeptical about the proposition of that happening, especially after witnessing what Minnesota and Michigan have put on the field in consecutive nights. 

However, it has happened in the past. The last time the Big Ten had a winning record in a bowl season was the 2009 season—a season in which it took down the No. 7, No. 9, No. 12 and No. 15 teams in the country to get to 4-3 in bowl games.

Big Ten fans are hungry to get back to the top of the mountain in college football, but efforts like that of Michigan against Kansas State do more harm than good. 

Sure, these are meaningless exhibition games, but in college football you are only as good as your reputation says you are, and bowl games equal reputations earned these days.

Michigan had its opportunity to start proving its (and the Big Ten's) critics wrong against K-State on Saturday night.

Instead, for the second time in the past four seasons, Michigan will finish the year 7-6 and head into the offseason in search of a missing run game and defense. 

The Wolverines allowed the Wildcats, a team coming in averaging just over 220 yards passing, to go off for 271 yards and three touchdowns through the air. K-State quarterback Jake Waters went an ultra-efficient 21-of-27 with the three TDs on the night. 

Offensively things were even worse, with the Wolverines mustering just 65 yards rushing on 15 carries—despite attempting the jet sweep and two double reverses. 

One was left wondering exactly what took place during all those extra practices bowl games afford teams. 

Nothing was working, and that extended to freshman quarterback Shane Morris, filling in for the injured Devin Gardner, who finished the game 24-of-38 for just 196 yards and an interception. 

It added up to the second straight dismal offensive effort from a Big Ten team to start bowl season.

The hopes of gaining any ground on the rest of the conferences rest squarely on the Big Ten teams running the New Year's Day gauntlet.

Good luck Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin—because it's on you to reverse that trend on January 1, 2014.

If the start of bowl season is any indication, though, it could be another long offseason in Big Ten country. 

 

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens

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