clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Big Ten Football Tournament of Bragging Rights

Here is a fun way to end a drunken argument between fans.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

If you root for Iowa, you probably rub elbows at work, in the dorm or at the bar with fans of other Big Ten football teams. As you know, these fans are dumb, because their team sucks and Iowa rules. They should know this because you are yelling this fact at them while throwing the old DX “suck it” sign, holding two cans of Busch Light and rocking a Ricky Stanzi Chiefs jersey.

One would think it’s pretty much science.

Somehow, however, there is an ongoing, seemingly eternal argument in regard to whose team rules and whose team sucks. Well, I have a fun method of determining who has bragging rights over who when it comes to Big Ten football. Is my way the only way? No, but it is a way and that should be good enough, considering you’re now a solid two paragraphs into this what-have-ya.

So let’s start with the basics: We are going to make a bracket. That bracket will consist of all 14 Big Ten schools plugged into a traditional 16-team bracket — like the regionals you see in March Madness.

The teams will be seeded No. 1 through No. 14 according to all-time winning percentage. The top-two seeds will receive first-round byes. Everyone else will be matched up accordingly, best seed vs. worst seed (3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13, etc.)

Once you have your match-ups, you decide the winner by finding out who leads the all-time series between the teams. If the all-time series is a tie, you default to “scoreboard”, which any argumentative sports troll knows is the phrase you yell at someone when your team has the last victory in the series.

A great site for finding out all of this information is If you’ve never heard of it, bookmark it. It’s awesome and has all of the historical data and tools you’ll ever need when it comes to comparing college football programs. I promise I’m not Rick-Rolling you into some porn site at work — not this time, anyway.

In any event, you use the head-to-head/scoreboard method to advance teams through the bracket until you end up with a champion. The nice thing about my method is that you can do it after every weekend, as you have the potential for different results each time. But since we’re doing this in the offseason, the results are final until September.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the first round seeds and match-ups:

No. 1 Michigan (.730 winning percentage) — BYE

No. 8 Iowa (.535) vs. No. 9 Maryland (.523)

No. 5 Michigan State (.599) vs. No. 12 Rutgers (.503)

No. 4 Penn State (.686) vs. No. 13 Northwestern (.447)

No. 6 Wisconsin (.580) vs. No. 11 Illinois (.510)

No. 3 Nebraska (.699) vs. No. 14. Indiana (.419)

No. 7 Minnesota (.570) vs. No. 10 Purdue (.520)

No. 2 Ohio State (.724) — BYE

For those visual learners, this is what the actual bracket would look like:


Iowa over Maryland via SCOREBOARD (series tied 1-1)

Michigan State over Rutgers, 5-3

Penn State over Northwestern, 13-5

Wisconsin over Illinois, 40-37

Indiana over Nebraska, 9-8 (UPSET CITY, BABY!!!)

Minnesota over Purdue, 37-32

Here’s where we stand after the first round:


Michigan over Iowa, 41-15 (Well, that sucks.)

Penn State over Michigan State via SCOREBOARD (series tied 15-15-1)

Wisconsin over Indiana, 40-18

Ohio State over Minnesota, 44-7

And now we’re down to four!


Michigan over Penn State, 13-7

Ohio State over Wisconsin, 58-18

And then there were two.


Michigan over Ohio State, 58-48


NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

And so there you have it. Those ultra-annoying, thin-skinned Wolverine fans currently have supreme bragging rights over the rest of the Big Ten in terms of settling probable drunken arguments about whose program is the best.

Again, this can change every season — even every week — as each win or loss impacts overall seeding and match-ups. I promise it won’t end up being Ohio State vs. Michigan every time. For instance, if Nebraska were to match up with Michigan right now, the Huskers would defeat the Wolverines via SCOREBOARD, as their series is tied and Nebraska has a two-game winning streak.

Fortunately for all of mankind, that matchup did not happen during this go-round. As awful as those Wolverine fans can be, the last thing we need is for Big Red Nation to have its ego stroked.

Remember, this is just one method. Maybe try it yourself with a twist. Perhaps divide the bracket by division next time. You could even try a national version. SPOILER ALERT — Notre Dame wins that one.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports