2013-14 Football Season in Review

Running back Ameer Abdullah led the Huskers to a win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl.

Jan. 13, 2014

• Michigan State ends season ranked third in country and becomes third Big Ten team to win at least 13 games in a season
• Michigan State and Ohio State give Big Ten two teams with 12 or more wins for just second time in conference annals
• Five Big Ten schools receive votes in final polls, including at least two top-10 teams for the fifth time in the last six seasons
• Michigan State wins 100th Rose Bowl Game and Nebraska earns victory in Gator Bowl
• Spartans claim eighth Big Ten title and second conference crown in four seasons
• Big Ten leads all conferences for ninth straight season with eight Academic All-Americans
• Big Ten establishes records for total attendance among all games and conference games only
• Penn State welcomes a new head coach
• 2014 season will mark the beginning of a new era, with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, adjusted division alignments and a new bowl lineup

Beginning in the fall, the conference began celebrating 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference’s most prestigious award, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.” In the 99 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction, which includes nearly 350 football players. The conference will award its 100th Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2014.


Big Ten Polling Place: With bowl season complete, five Big Ten schools received votes in the final Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls, including at least two top-10 teams for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Following a victory in the 100th Rose Bowl Game, Michigan State ended the season ranked No. 3 in both national polls, the second straight season a Big Ten team concluded the year at No. 3 after Ohio State was rated third in the final 2012 AP poll. The No. 3 ranking was the best finish for the Spartans since ending the 1966 campaign second in the country. The Buckeyes also ended this season rated among the top 10 nationally, appearing in a tie for No. 10 in the coaches’ poll and No. 12 in the AP vote. The Big Ten also placed multiple schools among the top 10 in the final national rankings in 2011 (No. 10/11 Wisconsin, No. 11/10 Michigan State, No. 12/9 Michigan), 2010 (No. 5/5 Ohio State, No. 7/T8 Wisconsin), 2009 (No. 5/5 Ohio State, No. 7/7 Iowa, No. 9/8 Penn State) and 2008 (No. 8/8 Penn State, No. 9/11 Ohio State). Other Big Ten schools to end the season among the top 25 this season were Wisconsin, rated No. 22 by the media and No. 21 by the coaches, and Nebraska, ranked No. 25 in the USA Today poll. The Huskers and Iowa also received votes in the AP rankings.



Coming Up Roses:  In the 100th Rose Bowl Game, Michigan State defeated No. 5 Stanford, 24-20, to improve to 4-1 all-time in Pasadena, the best winning percentage of any team to make more than two appearances. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook was named the game’s offensive MVP after posting a career-high 332 passing yards with two touchdowns, including a 25-yard scoring strike to Tony Lippett in the fourth quarter to give MSU a 24-17 advantage. The Cardinal pulled within 24-20 but the nation’s top-ranked defense stopped Stanford on fourth-and-one near midfield with 1:46 to play to seal the victory. In his first career start, fifth-year senior linebacker Kyler Ellsworth was tabbed the game’s defensive MVP after recording the tackle on the fourth-down stop, part of a four-tackle effort that included 1.5 tackles for loss. The Spartans were making their first trip to the Rose Bowl Game since the 1988 contest, a 20-17 win over USC, and also claimed victories in 1954 and 1956, with a narrow two-point loss in 1966.

Spartan Triple Play:  With a win in the 100th Rose Bowl Game, Michigan State recorded a third straight bowl victory for the first time in school history. The Spartans knocked off TCU, 17-16, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl after the 2012 season and went to triple overtime to edge Georgia, 33-30, in the Outback Bowl after the 2011 campaign. The last Big Ten team to win three straight postseason contests was Iowa after the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, while Ohio State won four straight bowls following the 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 campaigns.

Huskers Win Gator Bowl:  Nebraska defeated No. 22 Georgia, 24-19, in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl behind the longest pass play in school, conference and Gator Bowl history. Senior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa registered a career-high 129 receiving yards on four catches, including a 99-yard scoring strike in the third quarter to give Nebraska a 24-12 lead. Enunwa was named the game’s MVP and set a school record with his 12th touchdown catch of the season. His 99-yard score equaled the longest reception in Big Ten history, matching the effort of Indiana’s Thomas Lewis in 1993, Purdue’s Vinny Sutherland in 1999 and Wisconsin’s Lee Evans in 2003.

Playing the Best:  Big Ten schools faced five programs that appeared among the top 25 of the final BCS rankings in bowl games, with two wins and three losses decided by 10 points or less. Michigan State defeated No. 5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl Game while Nebraska knocked off No. 22 Georgia in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Iowa pulled within seven points against No. 16 LSU with less than two minutes remaining in the Outback Bowl before being falling 21-14. Wisconsin cut the deficit to 27-24 in the fourth quarter against No. 9 South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl before allowing a late score in a 34-24 defeat. Ohio State claimed a 35-34 lead in the fourth quarter against No. 12 Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl before the Tigers pulled out a 40-35 win.

Lucky 13:  Michigan State ended the 2013 campaign with a victory in the 100th Rose Bowl Game and a 13-1 record, the most wins in school history. The Spartans are only the third Big Ten team to win 13 or more contests in a season, as Minnesota won 13 games in 1904 and Ohio State recorded 14 victories in 2002.

Double-Digit Winners:  For just the second time in Big Ten history, two teams finished the year with 12 or more victories, with Michigan State posting a 13-1 record and Ohio State registering a 12-2 mark. The only other time two Big Ten squads won 12 or more games was in 2006 when Ohio State and Wisconsin ended the year with 12-1 marks. The Spartans and Buckeyes officially become just the 10th and 11th teams in Big Ten annals to end the year with at least 12 victories. The last conference team to win 12 games was Ohio State in 2012, while Michigan State’s 13 triumphs broke the school record of 11 wins set in 2010 and 2011.

Spartan Legend:  For the second time in four seasons, Michigan State was crowned Big Ten Champion following its victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans earned a share of the conference title in 2010 before winning the 2013 championship, securing the program’s eighth Big Ten crown. The conference championship sent the Spartans to the historic 100th Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, the program’s first appearance in “The Granddaddy of Them All” since the 1987 season.

Eight-for-Eight:  Michigan State and Ohio State each finished their Big Ten slates with perfect 8-0 records. It marked the first time two teams ended the Big Ten schedule with perfect conference slates since Iowa and Ohio State did so in 2002. Prior to 2002, the last time the Big Ten had two teams finish the year with perfect conference records was in 1943 when Michigan and Purdue were each 6-0.

Seven Bowlers:  The bowl season featured seven Big Ten programs, marking the 15th straight season that six or more squads took part in postseason play. Dating back to the 2002 season, the conference has officially sent seven or more teams to bowl games on eight occasions, including each of the last four seasons.  Overall, the Big Ten has officially sent six or more teams to postseason play 22 times.   Two in the BCS:  In the final installment of the BCS, the conference sent a pair of programs to one of the series’ five contests with Michigan State in the Rose Bowl Game and Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. The Big Ten officially sent two teams to BCS contests 11 times in the 16-year history of the series, including nine of the last 12 seasons. With the conclusion of the BCS era, the conference officially sent 27 squads to BCS contests, led by nine official appearances by Ohio State and five each by Michigan and Wisconsin.

BCS Depth:  With Michigan State making its first BCS appearance in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game, nine current Big Ten schools played in BCS bowl contests during the 16-year history of the event. The eight other current conference programs to play in BCS games are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Since 2007, seven conference teams (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin) participated in BCS contests, accounting for 12 official appearances over seven seasons. 

National Award Winners:  Two Big Ten players and one coach took home national individual honors. Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard won the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award. He is the first Spartan to win the honor, which has been awarded annually since 1986 to the nation’s best defensive back. Meanwhile, Spartan defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was named the winner of the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach. Dennard is the sixth Big Ten standout to claim the Thorpe Award, while Big Ten assistant coaches have claimed the Broyles Award on two previous occasions. Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis was named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player that began his career as a walk-on. He is the second Big Ten player to win the annual honor.

Making a Name for Themselves:  At least 19 conference standouts were named to various All-America squads, including nine that earned first-team distinction from at least one organization. Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard was named a unanimous consensus All-American after earning first-team accolades from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers’ Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp, and also earned first-team status from other organizations. Other conference standouts to earn first-team status from at least one outlet include Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun and Mike Sadler, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort and Ryan Shazier, Penn State’s Allen Robinson and Wisconsin’s Chris Borland. The full list of All-America selections can be found at the bottom of the season in review.  

Urschel Wins Campbell Trophy:  Penn State standout John Urschel was named the recipient of the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy. A two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Urschel was the first Penn State student-athlete to win the Campbell Trophy, which was first presented in 1990. The William V. Campbell Trophy is presented to the nation’s premier college football scholar-athlete. A two-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, Urschel will receive a total of $25,000 for post-graduate work. Urschel is the first Big Ten student-athlete since 2003 to win the Campbell Trophy and the fifth overall from a current Big Ten institution. Other Campbell Trophy winners from current Big Ten schools are the Nebraska duo of Robert Zatechka (1994) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (2000) and the Ohio State pair of Bobby Hoying (1995) and Craig Krenzel (2003).

Head of the Class:  The Big Ten led all conferences with eight student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-America first or second teams. The Big Ten has led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences in Academic All-Americans for nine straight seasons, with 72 honorees over that time span. The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten were Indiana’s Mark Murphy, Iowa’s James Morris, Michigan State’s Max Bullough and Mike Sadler, Nebraska’s Spencer Long and Penn State’s John Urschel. Urschel was one of two players to earn first-team accolades for a second time while both Bullough and Sadler earned second-team accolades during the 2012 season. The Big Ten’s second-team Academic All-Americans were the Nebraska pair of Jake Long and C.J. Zimmerer. Michigan State was one of just three schools to have two student-athletes earn placement on the first team. 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.

Showing Their Smarts:  The Big Ten recognized a total of 271 football student-athletes who were named to the Academic All-Conference Team, breaking the record of 259 Academic All-Big Ten honorees established in 2012-13. 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 (GPA) of 3.0 or higher. The full list of football Academic All-Big Ten honorees can be found on bigten.org.

The Big 5-0:  Nebraska joined elite company when it kicked off at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against Georgia. The Huskers made their 50th bowl appearance, making them just the third team in NCAA history to have played in 50 postseason contests, joining Alabama with 60 and Texas with 52 postseason berths. Nebraska faced a Georgia squad that made its 49th bowl appearance, making the Gator Bowl a matchup of programs that have a combined 99 bowl appearances.

Postseason History:  In addition to Nebraska making its 50th postseason appearance, five other conference squads competed in at least their 24th bowl game this postseason. Michigan and Ohio State recorded their 43rd official bowl appearances. The Huskers, Wolverines and Buckeyes are three of just 13 programs in the nation that have 40 or more bowl berths. Iowa played in its 27th postseason contest, Wisconsin made its 25th bowl appearance and Michigan State played in its 24th postseason game. Seven Big Ten teams are among a group of 43 NCAA programs that have appeared in at least 24 bowl games.

Big Ten Record Breakers: Ohio State set a pair of Big Ten single-season records during the 2013-14 campaign, while other individual and team performances ranked among the top five in conference history. The Buckeyes produced 4,321 rushing yards, breaking the Big Ten and program record of 4,199 yards set in the 1974 campaign. OSU kicker Drew Basil tallied 77 extra points, surpassing the previous conference best of 67 extra points set by Wisconsin’s Philip Welch in 2010. The Buckeyes offense also ended the season ranked among the top three in Big Ten annals with 38 passing scores (tied for second), 87 touchdowns (third) and 637 points (third). Indiana’s offense produced 36 passing touchdowns, good for fourth in Big Ten history. Penn State’s Allen Robinson also ended the year ranked among the Big Ten’s top four with 97 receptions (tied for fourth) for 1,432 yards (fourth).

Quite a Career: A number of Big Ten players ended the season ranked among the top 10 in conference career records. Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland ended his career with 15 forced fumbles, breaking the Big Ten record set by Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan from 2007-10. Two other Wisconsin standouts ended their time in Madison among the Big Ten’s top 10 – running back James White with 48 total touchdowns (ninth) and 45 rushing scores (ninth) and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis with 3,140 receiving yards (eighth). Ohio State’s Braxton Miller boosted his career numbers to 3,054 rushing yards with one year of eligibility remaining, which ranks third for rushing yards by a quarterback in conference annals behind only Michigan’s Denard Robinson (4,495 yards from 2009-12) and Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El (3,895 yards from 1998-01). Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez ended his career with 2,964 rushing yards, which ranks fourth among quarterbacks, and 10,233 yards of total offense, which rates ninth. Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase wrapped up his career with 1,848 total offensive plays, which ranks sixth, and 2,066 rushing yards, which rates 10th among quarterbacks, while Northwestern’s Kain Colter’s 2,188 rushing yards places him sixth among signal callers in conference annals.

Stat Champions:  The Big Ten crowned various statistical champions in conference games only. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde finished as the Big Ten rushing leader, averaging 156.1 yards per game, becoming the first Buckeye to lead the conference since Chris Wells in 2007. Hyde also finished the season as the conference scoring leader at 11.2 points per game, equaling his Big Ten-leading mark from a season ago. Teammate Braxton Miller led the conference in pass efficiency with a rating of 164.5, the first Buckeye to lead in that category since Terrelle Pryor in 2008. Miller also becomes the first Ohio State player to lead the Big Ten in total offense since Bobby Hoying in 1995 after averaging 295 yards of offense per game. For the second year in a row, Penn State’s Allen Robinson led the conference in receptions and receiving yards per game, finishing with 8.9 catches and 123 yards per game. He is the first Big Ten player to lead the conference in receptions in consecutive years since Purdue’s Dorien Bryant in 2005 and 2006 and the first to lead the Big Ten in receiving yards in back-to-back years since Purdue’s Brian Alford in 1996 and 1997.

Record Attendance:  The Big Ten established a new conference record for total attendance among all games and conference games only this season. Big Ten schools saw 6,061,514 fans come through the turnstiles this season, breaking the old conference record of 6,008,124 fans in the 2011 season. In addition, 3,414,448 patrons attended the 48 Big Ten contests this season, passing the old mark of 3,408,963 that was also set in 2011. The Big Ten averaged 70,483 fans per game among all games, while seeing that number increase to 71,134 fans per game during conference games only, marks that each rank among the top 10 in conference history. In addition, the attendance of 66,002 at the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game established a new Big Ten record.

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 23 in the country overall. Michigan led the country with an average of 111,592 fans per game, Ohio State ranked second with 104,933 patrons per contest and Penn State rated fifth with 96,587 fans per outing. Other Big Ten schools to appear among the top 23 in average attendance were Nebraska (ninth at 90,933), Wisconsin (17th at 78,911), Michigan State (20th at 72,328) and Iowa (23rd at 67,125).

Welcome to the Club:  The Big Ten will welcome one new head coach to the sidelines for the 2014 campaign in Penn State’s James Franklin. Franklin led Vanderbilt to unprecedented success in his three years as head coach, winning nine games in each of the past two years, and finishing in the Top 25 in consecutive seasons, both for the first time in school history. He posted a 24-15 record, including marks of 9-4 during each of the past two seasons, capped by bowl victories. Franklin's 2012 squad finished the season with seven consecutive victories and posted the school’s first nine-win season since 1915. A native of Langhorne, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, Franklin succeeds Bill O'Brien, who was named head coach of the National Football League's Houston Texans.

A New Big Ten:  The 2014 season will mark the beginning of a new era in Big Ten football, with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, adjusted division alignments and a new bowl lineup.   East and West: The new division alignments will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the East Division and Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the West Division. Each school will play the other six schools in its division plus two teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015, which will serve as transitional years in which the schools will still be playing eight-game schedules before moving to nine-game conference slates in 2016.

Nine Lives: Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue. As a result of the nine-game conference schedule and the Big Ten’s schedule rotation, every student-athlete will have the opportunity to play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period. The Big Ten is returning to a nine-game conference schedule for all teams for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. The Big Ten schedules through the 2019 season can be found at bigten.org.

A National Bowl Slate: The Big Ten unveiled the largest and most diverse postseason lineup in conference history last summer, with 12 different bowl partners spread across the country beginning with the 2014 season. The Big Ten’s new bowl lineup will be highlighted by annual games against quality opponents from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Conference USA and Mountain West in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Tennessee and Texas, along with the opportunity to visit four other outstanding postseason venues as part of the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten’s new bowl lineup will allow teams and fans to visit world-class cities while having the opportunity to experience 11 different NFL stadiums, along with some of the most iconic venues in the country, including Rose Bowl Stadium, Cotton Bowl Stadium and Yankee Stadium. These outstanding facilities have hosted or will host 30 different Super Bowls in 11 different stadiums.  

The Lineup: The Big Ten’s new bowl lineup consists of the following postseason games:
• Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO (Pasadena, Calif.)
• Discover Orange Bowl (Miami, Fla.)
• Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas)
• Capital One Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
• TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.)
• Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank (Dallas, Texas)
• Holiday Bowl (San Diego, Calif.)
• Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Santa Clara, Calif.)
• Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.)
• Outback Bowl (Tampa, Fla.)
• New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, N.Y.)
• Bowl to be played in Detroit (Detroit, Mich.)

Bowl Breakdown: The conference office announced six-year bowl extensions with the Capital One and Outback Bowls, an eight-year agreement with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl and six-year agreements with the Kraft Fight Hunger and Holiday Bowls and the postseason game to be played in Detroit. The Big Ten also announced agreements for conference teams to appear on three occasions over a six-year period in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces, TaxSlayer.com Gator, Heart of Dallas and Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowls. The Big Ten previously announced a 12-year extension to face a Pac-12 team in the Rose Bowl Game through the 2025 campaign, and unveiled an agreement with the Discover Orange Bowl to send a Big Ten team to face an ACC representative at least three times following the 2014-25 seasons. Big Ten schools will also look to secure berths in the four-team College Football Playoff to begin after the 2014 campaign, with semifinals to rotate between the Chick-fil-A (Atlanta, Ga.), AT&T Cotton (Arlington, Texas), Tostitos Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Rose, Discover Orange and Allstate Sugar (New Orleans, La.) Bowls.

Mix and Match: The Big Ten’s 2014-19 bowl lineup will also feature a new selection process to ensure outstanding bowl matchups and fresh postseason destinations. Each bowl partner will work with the Big Ten to create the best possible matchup based upon an agreed set of parameters, with final approval by the conference office for all team selections. The Capital One, Kraft Fight Hunger, Holiday and Outback Bowls along with the bowl to be played in Detroit will feature at least five different schools during their six-year agreements, while the New Era Pinstripe Bowl will highlight at least six different programs over its eight-year agreement. Combined with the College Football Playoff and three-year rotations with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces, TaxSlayer.com Gator, Heart of Dallas and Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowls, the Big Ten’s new bowl lineup will provide a variety of postseason bowl options for conference teams and their fans over the term of the agreements.


Brandon Scherff, IOWA - FWAA2
Taylor Lewan, MICH - AP2, CBS2, SI2, USAT, WC2
Denicos Allen, MSU - AP3, SI2
Max Bullough, MSU - AP3
Shilique Calhoun, MSU - AP2, SI2, USAT, WC2
*Darqueze Dennard, MSU - AFCA, AP1, CBS1, FWAA1, ESPN, SI1, SN, USAT, WC
Mike Sadler, MSU - CBS1, ESPN
Ra’Shede Hageman, MINN - AP3
Ameer Abdullah, NEB - AP3
Spencer Long, NEB - CBS3
Jeff Budzien, NU - AP3, SN, USAT, WC2
CJ Barnett, OSU - CBS3
Carlos Hyde, OSU - AP3, CBS2
Jack Mewhort, OSU - AP3, CBS3, ESPN, FWAA2 SI2, WC2
Ryan Shazier, OSU - AP1, CBS2, ESPN, FWAA2, SI1, USAT, WC2
Allen Robinson, PSU - AP3, CBS1, FWAA2, SI2, SN
John Urschel, PSU - AP3
Chris Borland, WIS - AP2, CBS2, FWAA1, SI2, USAT
Ryan Groy, WIS - AP3

AFCA - American Football Coaches Association
AP1/2/3 - Associated Press First, Second or Third Team
CBS1/2/3 - CBSSports.com First, Second Team or Third Team
FWAA1/2 - Football Writers Association of America
SI1/2 - Sports Illustrated First or Second Team
SN - Sporting News
USAT - USA Today
WC1/2 - Walter Camp First or Second Team

Consensus All-American in bold
* Denotes unanimous consensus All-American