2012-13 Football Season in Review

Quarterback Kain Colter helped Northwestern win its first bowl game since 1949.

Jan. 11, 2013

• Wisconsin wins third straight Big Ten title with second consecutive championship game victory
• Ohio State secures sixth perfect season in school history
• Michigan State and Northwestern earn bowl triumphs
• Big Ten is one of two conferences with four or more top-25 teams in final polls
• Conference coaches and players earn national honors
• Big Ten leads all conferences for eighth straight season with nine Academic All-Americans
• Three Big Ten standouts break NCAA records
• Conference schools produce second-highest attendance in Big Ten history
• Purdue and Wisconsin welcome new head coaches


Big Ten Polling Place: With bowl season complete, six Big Ten schools received votes in the final Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls, while four teams appeared among the top 25. The Big Ten and SEC were the only conferences to feature four or more top-25 teams in the final polls. Ohio State led the way for the Big Ten and ended the season ranked No. 3 in the AP poll, the highest finish for a conference school since the Buckeyes concluded the 2006 campaign rated second in the country. It was the 11th straight season with at least one Big Ten team among the final top 10. After a victory in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Northwestern was voted No. 16 by the coaches and No. 17 by the media. The last time the Wildcats ended the season among the top 25 was following the 1996 campaign, when they were rated No. 15 in the AP poll and No. 16 in the coaches’ rankings. Michigan and Nebraska also ended the season among the top 25, with the Wolverines rated No. 24 by the media and just outside the top 25 by the coaches and the Cornhuskers ranked No. 25 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the USA Today vote. Penn State and Wisconsin also received votes in the final polls.

Wisconsin Earns Third Straight Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin collected its third straight Big Ten Championship for the first time in school history after winning the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The Badgers shared the conference title in 2010 before winning the first two Big Ten Football Championship Games, giving the school 14 Big Ten titles, which ranks fifth in conference annals. Wisconsin becomes the fourth team to win three or more consecutive Big Ten Championships, along with Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State. The Buckeyes were the most recent team to accomplish that feat, earning at least a share of five straight titles from 2005 to 2009.



Record-Breaking Title Game: Wisconsin scored touchdowns on seven of its first nine possessions on its way to amassing 70 points in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The Badgers offensive outburst matched the record for points scored in a conference title game, as Texas tallied 70 points in the 2005 Big 12 Football Championship Game. Two Wisconsin running backs surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark for the first time in school history, as the team produced 539 rushing yards, the fifth-highest single-game total in school history. Freshman Melvin Gordon set a Big Ten Football Championship Game record with 216 rushing yards on only nine carries, an average of 24.0 yards per attempt, with a touchdown. Senior Montee Ball was named the Grange-Griffin Championship Game MVP after producing 202 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Junior James White also surpassed the 100-yard mark with 109 yards on 15 carries with a Big Ten title game record four rushing scores, while adding a passing touchdown.

Perfection:  Ohio State secured the sixth perfect season in program history, finishing the season with a 12-0 record. The Buckeyes’ unblemished record marks the first perfect season since Ohio State went 14-0 in 2002. The last Big Ten team to post an unbeaten record in the regular season was also OSU, which went 12-0 in 2006. Big Ten teams have now produced 34 perfect seasons (including postseason, no ties) and 59 undefeated seasons (including postseason and ties). The Buckeyes were the only team in the nation to finish the season with an unblemished record.

Seven Bowl Teams:  The Big Ten sent seven conference teams to bowl games, marking the 14th straight year that six or more Big Ten programs earned postseason berths. Dating back to the 1999 season, the conference has sent seven or more teams to bowl games on 11 occasions, including each of the last eight seasons.  Overall, the Big Ten has sent six or more teams to postseason play 21 times.

Pasa-Three-Na:  When Wisconsin took the field against Stanford in the 99th Rose Bowl Game, it marked the third consecutive year the Badgers played in the annual contest in Pasadena. It was just the third time a program has played in the Rose Bowl Game in three or more consecutive seasons. Ohio State appeared in the Rose Bowl Game from 1972-75, while Michigan represented the Big Ten in Pasadena from 1976-78.

The BCS Habit:  Wisconsin’s berth in the Rose Bowl Game gave the Badgers their fifth appearance in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contest, joining two other conference teams with five or more berths in a BCS game. Ohio State is tied for the national lead with eight official BCS appearances, while Michigan has played in five BCS games in program history, tied for seventh-most in the nation. In total, just 11 programs in the nation have competed in five or more BCS games.

Northwestern Records First Bowl Win Since 1949: Northwestern set a bowl record with four interceptions on the way to a 34-20 victory over Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, the Wildcats first bowl triumph since the 1949 Rose Bowl Game.  Northwestern hit the 10-win mark for the first time since the 1995 Big Ten Championship team, and the triumph also gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his 50th victory as a head coach, making him the Wildcats’ all-time leader in wins. With a game-high 10 tackles and a near interception late in the game, senior safety Jared Carpenter was named the 2013 Gator Bowl MVP.

Michigan State Claims Second Straight Bowl Triumph: Michigan State won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 2001 season as senior kicker Dan Conroy hit a 47-yard field goal with just over a minute left for a 17-16 victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The Spartans were also victorious in the 2012 Outback Bowl against Georgia, which was won on a Conroy kick in the third overtime. The last time Michigan State won two straight bowl games was following the 2001 (Silicon Valley) and 1999 (Citrus) campaigns. The last time the Spartans triumphed in bowls in back-to-back years was after the 1990 (Sun) and 1989 (Aloha) seasons. Junior running back Le’Veon Bell was named the Offensive Player of the Game after running for 145 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown while junior defensive end William Gholston was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Game after recording a season-high nine tackles, including one sack.

Double-Digit Win Club: Ohio State, Nebraska and Northwestern all posted 10 or more wins this season. The Buckeyes were the nation’s only undefeated team, ending the season with a 12-0 mark, the sixth perfect season in program history. Head coach Urban Meyer recorded the second undefeated season in his career, also going 12-0 at Utah in 2004, and reached double-digits in wins for the sixth time in his 11 seasons leading a program. Nebraska produced a 10-4 record, marking the third 10-win season in head coach Bo Pelini’s five-year tenure with the program. Northwestern knocked off Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl to end the season 10-3, reaching double-digit victories for just the third time in program history. The Wildcats also recorded 10 victories in 1995, when current head coach Pat Fitzgerald was winning the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards as a junior linebacker, and in 1903.

More on Double-Digit Winners: With the Buckeyes, Cornhuskers and Wildcats all hitting double-digits in victories, the 2012 campaign marks the third time in the last four seasons three Big Ten squads officially ended the season with 10 or more triumphs. Ohio State became the first Big Ten team to hit 12 wins since both OSU and Wisconsin produced 12 victories in 2006. The Badgers posted double-digit wins in three straight seasons, including 11 victories in 2011 and 2010 and 10 triumphs in 2009. Wisconsin was joined by Michigan State with 11 wins in both 2011 and 2010 and Michigan with 11 victories in 2011. Iowa and Ohio State produced 11 wins in 2009. In all, seven conference schools have officially reached the double-digit plateau in the last four seasons, including Wisconsin (2009, 2010, 2011), Michigan State (2010, 2011), Ohio State (2009, 2012), Iowa (2009), Michigan (2011), Nebraska (2012) and Northwestern (2012).

O’Brien Named National Coach of Year: Penn State's Bill O'Brien was named the Maxwell Football Club (MFC) Collegiate Coach of the Year, the second straight year a Big Ten coach has been honored. Michigan's Brady Hoke was named the MFC Collegiate Coach of the Year last season. The MFC has honored a national coach of the year since 1989 and Big Ten mentors have now been selected on eight occasions. O'Brien and Ohio State's Urban Meyer were also named finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to victories in eight of their final 10 games, earning an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the conference, with the only losses coming to division winners Nebraska and Ohio State. Penn State reeled off five consecutive victories after a 0-2 start and won its first three Big Ten road games. O'Brien was named the Big Ten's Dave McClain (media vote) and Hayes-Schembechler (coaches’ vote) Coach of the Year.

Big Ten Players Earn National Honors:  Multiple Big Ten standouts were honored with national awards this season. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball was named the winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, presented to the nation’s outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. Michigan’s Patrick Omameh and Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead were selected to the AFCA Good Works Team, which honors a student-athlete’s dedication to community service and off-field accomplishments, while Burkhead and Northwestern’s Patrick Ward earned the National Football Foundation’s National-Scholar Athlete Award, which awards postgraduate scholarships to those who have displayed athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Finally, the Penn State senior class was honored with the Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award in recognition of their commitment, leadership and outstanding effort during the 2012 season.

Making a Name for Themselves:  Ten Big Ten performers earned All-America honors from various publications following the conclusion of the 2012 regular season. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball was named a consensus All-American for the second straight season, while Michigan’s Taylor Lewan was named a first-team All-American by at least four different publications. Ball is the first Wisconsin standout to earn consensus All-America honors in two seasons and the first Big Ten player to accomplish that feat in back-to-back years since Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones was honored in 2009 and 2010. In addition, eight other conference standouts were named to All-America squads, including Nebraska’s Spencer Long, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins, Bradley Roby and John Simon, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Purdue’s Kawann Short and Wisconsin’s Rick Wagner.

Students of the Game: The Big Ten led all conferences with nine student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-America first or second teams in football as announced by CoSIDA. The Big Ten has now led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences in Academic All-Americans for eight straight seasons, with 64 honorees over that time span. The Big Ten’s total of nine Academic All-Americans topped all conferences, as no other conference produced more than five honorees. The Big Ten also led all conferences with five first-team selections, followed by the Big 12 with three first-team honorees and the Mid-American, Southeastern and Western Athletic conferences with two first-teamers each. Penn State was one of only two schools with two first-team Academic All-Americans. The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten are Indiana’s Adam Replogle, Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead, Northwestern’s Patrick Ward and the Penn State duo of Pete Massaro and John Urschel. Burkhead, Ward and Massaro are three of the five players among this year’s honorees to earn first-team accolades for a second time, giving the Big Ten 16 two-time Academic All-Americans in the last decade. The Big Ten’s second-team Academic All-Americans are the Michigan State pair of Max Bullough and Mike Sadler, Nebraska’s Sean Fisher and Northwestern’s Brian Arnfelt. To be eligible for the award, a player must be in at least his second year of athletic eligibility, be a first-team or key performer and carry a cumulative 3.30 grade point average (GPA).

Showing Their Smarts:  The Big Ten recognized a record 260 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in the sport of football, and 186 (71.5 percent) hailed from conference institutions that competed in bowl games this season. Four of those performers have maintained 4.0 grade-point averages, including Mike Sadler of Michigan State, Sean Fisher of Nebraska and Brian Arnfelt and Quentin Williams of Northwestern. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. The full list of football Academic All-Big Ten honorees can be found on bigten.org.

Playing the Best: The Big Ten annually features one of the toughest bowl schedules and this season was no exception. Every Big Ten bowl opponent played in a BCS automatic-qualifying (AQ) conference, with three games each against the Big 12 and SEC and one contest against the Pac-12. The Big Ten was one of three conferences with seven or more bowls against BCS AQ conferences. The Big Ten also led all conferences with three bowl games against teams ranked among the top 10 in the final BCS standings and leads all conferences with 15 bowl games against BCS top-16 teams over the last four seasons, followed by the SEC (14), Pac-12 (10), ACC (7) and Big 12 (6).

Tough Bowl Schedule: The Big Ten’s bowl contingent matched up with some of the nation’s most successful programs. The conference’s bowl opponents entered postseason play with a combined record of 61-25 (.709) and three opponents had already reached double-digits in wins – South Carolina, Georgia and Stanford. It marked the third straight season Wisconsin faced a team that had won 10 or more games heading into their Rose Bowl Game matchup, facing 12-0 TCU in 2010, 11-2 Oregon in 2011 and 11-2 Stanford this season.

Into Enemy Territory:  For the eighth straight season, at least two of the Big Ten matchups were essentially road games, with conference teams facing schools from the state in which the bowl was contested. Minnesota headed to Houston, Texas, for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, where the Gophers faced Texas Tech. Competing in the Rose Bowl Game, Wisconsin took on Stanford, which played in Rose Bowl Stadium in its regular-season finale against UCLA on Nov. 24. In total, the Big Ten leads the nation with 23 “road” bowl games over the last eight seasons.

It’s Been a Ball:  Wisconsin running back Montee Ball completed his collegiate career as one of the NCAA’s most prolific rushers. Ball finished his time in Madison with 100 rushing yards and a touchdown against Stanford in the Rose Bowl Game, his third-straight effort of 100 or more yards in Pasadena, making him the first player to break the century mark in three Rose Bowl Games. The senior running back ends his career as the NCAA’s all-time leader with 500 total points, 83 total touchdowns and 77 rushing touchdowns. He breaks the records of 486 points, 78 total scores and 73 rushing scores previously set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) from 1996-99. The 2012 Doak Walker Award winner, Ball shares the NCAA single-season record of 39 total touchdowns with former Oklahoma State standout Barry Sanders, and holds the single-season record with 236 total points. Both single-season records came during Ball’s junior season in 2011 that saw him finish as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He concludes his career with 5,140 rushing yards, which ranks fourth in Big Ten history.
More NCAA Record Breakers: In addition to the national marks shattered by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Minnesota’s Troy Stoudermire also set NCAA career records during bowl games. The Wolverines’ Robinson rushed for 100 yards in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina to give him 4,495 career yards on the ground to break the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. West Virginia’s Pat White previously held the record with 4,480 rushing yards from 2005-08. Robinson’s rushing total ranks ninth in Big Ten history among all players and he ends his career ranked sixth in conference annals with 10,745 yards of total offense. The Golden Gophers’ Stoudermire returned four kickoffs for 111 yards against Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas to set NCAA career marks with 144 returns for 3,615 yards. Houston’s Tyron Carrier set the previous record with 141 kickoff returns for 3,517 yards from 2008-11.

Crowning Stat Champions:  The Big Ten crowned various statistical champions at the conclusion of the conference season in Big Ten games only. For the second season in a row, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball led the conference in rushing, averaging 146.0 yards per game. He becomes the first player to top the Big Ten in rushing in consecutive seasons since former Badger Ron Dayne did so in 1998 and 1999, and just the third time since at least 1970. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez averaged 280.9 yards of total offense per conference game this season to lead all Big Ten performers. Penn State’s Allen Robinson was the conference leader in receptions (6.0) and yards per game (76.8). He is the second Big Ten player in four seasons, following Purdue’s Keith Smith in 2009, to lead the conference in both categories. He is the first Nittany Lion to lead the Big Ten in yards, and just the second to lead the Big Ten in catches, following Bobby Engram in 1995. Ball and Ohio State’ Carlos Hyde tied for the scoring title as each averaged 11.2 points per game. It marks the third straight year Ball has led the conference in scoring, a feat unmatched in conference history since at least 1939, and Hyde is the first Buckeye to lead the Big Ten in the category since Eddie George in 1995. Michigan State’s Mike Sadler led the Big Ten with an average of 43.8 yards per punt, the first Spartan to lead the conference in the category since Aaron Bates in 2008.

Packing the House:  The 2012 season featured the second-highest season attendance for all games and conference games only in Big Ten history. In 83 games, the Big Ten welcomed more than 5.8 million fans, after boasting over six million patrons that attended contests a season ago. Among conference games only, over 3.3 million fans passed through the turnstiles in 48 Big Ten contests, just below the total of 3.4 million from last season. The averages of 70,387 patrons among all games and 70,493 in conference games only rank eighth all-time in Big Ten history in their respective categories.

Nation’s Best Fans: Big Ten schools filled three of the top five spots in the NCAA rankings for average attendance while seven conference programs rated among the top 21 in the country overall. Michigan led the country with an average of 112,252 fans per game, Ohio State ranked second with 105,330 patrons per contest and Penn State rated fifth with 96,730 fans per outing. Other Big Ten schools to appear among the top 21 in average attendance were Nebraska (12th at 85,517), Wisconsin (16th at 80,006), Michigan State (20th at 75,382) and Iowa (21st at 70,474). Only 21 schools broke the 70,000 barrier in average attendance this season, and 15 of those programs played in the Big Ten or SEC.

Dungy Earns NCAA’s Highest Honor:  Former Minnesota student-athlete and Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy will be honored with the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award at the 2013 NCAA Convention. Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, whose concern for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906, the award is the NCAA’s highest honor and is given annually to an individual “for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.” Dungy’s name appears on the Big Ten’s Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award, which recognizes Big Ten football players that have achieved success in the area of humanitarianism after their college careers have ended. Indiana’s George Taliaferro was honored with the inaugural Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award in 2011, while Ohio State’s Chris Spielman earned the award in 2012.

Welcome to the Club:  The Big Ten will welcome a pair of new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2013 campaign in Purdue’s Darrell Hazell and Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen. Hazell comes to the Boilermakers from Kent State, where he served as head coach for the last two seasons, compiling a 16-9 record. The Golden Flashes posted a school record 11 wins prior to bowl play and won their first-ever Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division Championship. Kent State played in its first bowl game in 40 years and Hazell was named the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year. Prior to his stint at Kent State, he spent seven seasons at Ohio State, where he served as assistant head coach and wide receivers coach. Andersen spent the previous four seasons as the head coach at Utah State, leading the Aggies to a 26-24 record. In 2012, Utah State won a school-record 11 games, going undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and capturing its first outright conference title since 1936. Andersen was named the WAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Before Utah State, Andersen was on the defensive staff at Utah for five seasons, including two undefeated campaigns culminating in BCS bowl victories.


Taylor Lewan, MICH - AP1, SI1, CBS2, ESPN, WC1
Spencer Long, NEB - AP2, WC2
Venric Mark, NU - CBS1, FWAA, SN
Johnathan Hankins, OSU - AP2, CBS3
Bradley Roby, OSU - AP2, CBS2, ESPN, WC2
John Simon, OSU - AP3, CBS2, WC2
Michael Mauti, PSU - ESPN
Kawann Short, PUR - AP2, CBS2
Montee Ball, WIS - AFCA, AP1, SI2, CBS2, ESPN, WC1
Rick Wagner, WIS - CBS2

AFCA - American Football Coaches Association
AP1/2/3 - Associated Press First, Second or Third Team
CBS1/2 - CBSSports.com First or Second Team
FWAA - Football Writers Association of America
SI1/2 - Sports Illustrated First or Second Team
SN - Sporting News
WC1/2 - Walter Camp First or Second Team

Consensus All-Americans in bold