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B1G Numbers to Ponder: Conference titles, Championship Game Appearances and ESPN’s FPI

History and current projections may indicate that the Big Ten is wide open in 2017.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Wisconsin vs Penn State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’re getting down to crunch time in terms of the college football season kicking off and projections and hot takes ramping up. Yesterday’s Overreaction Monday piece piqued my curiosity a bit, and I subsequently did some amateur research on the recent history of the Big Ten Football Championship. I also took a peek at ESPN’s Football Power Index, which I guess is a thing, because the talking heads on that network never shut up about it during the season. What I found out was that the idea of Iowa winning the Big Ten West in 2017 is not all that unrealistic.

Here are the numbers I pulled in regard to both of those topics:


This is the total number of Big Ten schools who have claimed at least a share of the conference championship in football since the turn of the century. That group includes Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. I suppose Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers get a pass on this stat as relative newbies to the old conference. That said, Indiana and Minnesota don’t really have and excuse. The last time either team tasted a conference title was in 1967, when both programs shared the B1G crown with Purdue.


This is the total number of Big Ten schools who have made at least once appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game since its inception in 2011. That group includes Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa and Penn State. The biggest obvious omission on the list is Michigan, but by-and-large, nothing on that list should surprise anyone.

Four of the six Big Ten title games have been fairly competitive, having been decided by ten points or less. Two of the games were blowouts, with Wisconsin being involved in both. The Badgers defeated Nebraska 70-31 in 2012 and were shut out by Ohio State 59-0 in 2014.


This is the total number of conference titles won by the Nebraska football program throughout its history. That said, the last Husker conference title came in 1999. They’ve played in a couple of conference championship games in the Big 12 recently, and one in the Big Ten as stated in the last section. Looking at the landscape of the Big Ten West heading into 2017, one has to figure this is Nebraska’s best chance of getting back to the title game in quite some time — and certainly in the Mike Riley-era.


This is the current number of Big Ten teams that appear in the Top 25 of the current ESPN Football Power Index. Ohio State is currently No. 1, Penn State is No. 8, Wisconsin is No. 9 and Michigan is sitting at No. 16. From there, the supposed power level in the Big Ten drops off considerably. You don’t see another B1G team until Northwestern at No. 29. After that, YOUR Iowa Hawkeyes pull into the station at No. 40 in the eyes of ESPN’s super-duper scientific formula.

No other Big Ten teams appear in the Top 50.