The Big Ten has the 2nd best OOC record of any conference in college football thus far. We are also 5-4 against other major conferences from my calculations.
While I don't think the Big Ten should be lauded by the pundits necessarily, I think the level of criticism is unfair. That's because Michigan and OSU are the face of the conference, and if one struggles, it's automatically assumed it's a "down year". Especially if they lose to a D-2 school. Then they start to fixate on our other minor flaws like the Badgers not blowing out teams or Minnesota losing to scrubs. Then while their attention is diverted they don't notice as much how:
A Pac 10 top team like UCLA got obliterated by a mid major. How Oregon State got drubbed by Cincinnati. Arizona losing to New Mexico. Cal barely beating Colorado State. Or losing handily against 2 of 3 teams in the crappy Big Ten.
Or how Oklahoma State of the Big 12 got drubbed by Troy. Texas narrowly defeated a couple of mid majors. Iowa St. lost to Northern Iowa and Kent State. TAMU needing OT at home to beat Fresno State. Nebraska getting thumped at home by USC.
How about Virginia of the ACC getting throttled by Wyoming. NC St. beaten by Central Florida. UNC by ECU. Duke by UCONN. Maryland, Va Tech, and Miami getting destroyed by: West Virginia, LSU, and Oklahoma; respectively. That's in the few OOC games the ACC has actually played.
And don't forget mighty Louisville striking out against Kentucky. West Virginia scuffling with Marshall. Syracuse being the worst team in all of D1. Being 0-3 against the crappy Big 10. And that's in the few OOC opportunities they've had.
I do believe there's a double standard amongst the college football public regarding the Big Ten v. just about every other conference.
So to answer the question, are they the worst? Far from it. There are multiple major conferences worse than the Big Ten. But they aren't the best either. That would probably be the SEC. However when they've played Wisconsin recently, SEC stood for Speed Easily Contained :)