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Original Issue

Campaign Swings

America's ongoing population shift isn't just a factor in elections this fall—it's also playing a key role in the Big Ten's decline

In the fall of 1972, as Richard Nixon and George McGovern were in the throes of a dark Presidential campaign, the polls that really mattered to college football fans were dominated by teams that are currently in the Big Ten. Nebraska was coming off back-to-back national titles, and Ohio State had captured the top spot in the final AP and UPI polls in '68. Since then a massive population migration from the Rust Belt and the Midwest has altered not only the electoral college map but also the landscape of recruiting, in which the golden rule says that states with the most people produce the most talent. This is one reason why the Big Ten has struggled in recent years and is especially floundering in 2012, compiling a combined 5--9 record in nonconference games against teams from BCS conferences and Notre Dame.

As the 2012 Presidential election approaches, here's a look at how the electoral map has changed in the last 40 years for the schools that ruled college football in the days of Nixon and where all those people have gone.

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There are currently only two Big Ten teams in the Top 25, Ohio State at No. 8 and Michigan at 25.

[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]

Lost votes

Gained votes

No change

Note: Gray areas are non--Big Ten states that have either lost or maintained the same number of votes.


1 Alabama

'Bama resumes play by welcoming SEC newcomer Missouri.

2 Oregon

After crushing six straight opponents, the Ducks take a week off.

3 South Carolina

Georgia proved it's elite, but now it must take on LSU.

4 West Virginia

It's official: The path to the Big 12 title now goes through Morgantown.

5 Florida

The Gators must avoid the Vandy trap before meeting South Carolina.

6 Kansas State

The Wildcats are rolling, but trips to Ames can be treacherous.

7 Notre Dame

A win against Stanford would solidify its BCS at-large credentials.

8 Ohio State

The Buckeyes can't play for the national title, but they're the Big Ten's best.

9 Oregon State

The burger-fueled Beavers go to BYU; the nearest In-N-Out is only 2.6 miles away.

10 Oklahoma

The Sooners bounced back in Lubbock but face a must-win in the Red River Rivalry.

Heisman Tracker

There's not much more to say about Geno Smith—he threw for only 268 yards against Texas but had four touchdown passes, marking a new level of efficiency for him. Meanwhile, a battle for the second spot is shaping up between Collin Klein and Braxton Miller. First one to lose is out?