2017-18 Football Season in Review
Jan. 24, 2018

• Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin each earned spots in College Football Playoff bowls. Big Ten Champion Ohio State was selected to participate in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Wisconsin played in the Capital One Orange Bowl and Penn State took part in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

• The 2017-18 season marked the fourth consecutive year and sixth time in conference history that three conference teams finished the season with at least 11 victories. Wisconsin concluded the year with a 13-1 record, Ohio State finished the season with a mark of 12-2 and Penn State went 11-2. The Buckeyes have won at least 11 games in each of the last six seasons, while the Badgers have recorded at least 10 victories in seven of the last nine seasons. For Penn State, this season marked the program’s second consecutive campaign with at least 11 victories.

• With bowl season complete, three Big Ten teams appeared among the top eight in the final Associated Press (AP) and Amway coaches polls for just the 11th time in Big Ten history and the first time since the 2009 season. Ohio State ended the year ranked fifth in both polls, Wisconsin was seventh in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches rankings and Penn State was eighth in each poll.

• The Big Ten has placed multiple schools among the top 10 in the final national rankings in nine of the last 10 years, including:

  • 2017 (No. 5/5 Ohio State, No. 7/6 Wisconsin, No. 8/8 Penn State)
  • 2016 (No. 6/6 Ohio State, No. 7/7 Penn State, No. 9/9 Wisconsin, No. 10/10 Michigan)
  • 2015 (No. 4/4 Ohio State, No. 6/6 Michigan State and No. 9/10 Iowa)
  • 2014 (No. 1/1 Ohio State, No. T-5/5 Michigan State)
  • 2013 (No. 3/3 Michigan State, No. 12/T-10 Ohio State)
  • 2011 (No. 10/11 Wisconsin, No. 11/10 Michigan State, No. 12/9 Michigan)
  • 2010 (No. 5/5 Ohio State, No. 7/T-8 Wisconsin)
  • 2009 (No. 5/5 Ohio State, No. 7/7 Iowa, No. 9/8 Penn State)
  • 2008 (No. 8/8 Penn State, No. 9/11 Ohio State)

• Seven conference squads earned victories in bowl games, including four wins over ranked opponents. Ohio State defeated No. 8 USC in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Wisconsin topped No. 10 Miami in the Capital One Orange Bowl, Penn State defeated No. 11 Washington in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Michigan State bested No. 18 Washington State in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. In addition, Purdue defeated Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl, Iowa topped Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl and Northwestern defeated Kentucky in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

• The Big Ten won seven bowl games for the first time in conference history, topping the six bowl wins at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Conference teams have combined to win five or more bowl games in three of the last four seasons.

• Ohio State was crowned Big Ten Champion after its 27-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game presented by Discover on Dec. 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It was the Buckeyes’ 36th Big Ten title and first since 2014.

• Four Big Ten students took home national honors. Iowa’s Josey Jewell received the Lott IMPACT Trophy as the defensive impact player of the year and the Jack Lambert Award given to the best linebacker in the nation. Jewell’s teammate, Josh Jackson was chosen as the recipient of the Jack Tatum Award, which goes to the nation’s best defensive back. Ohio State’s Billy Price earned the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding center, while Penn State’s Saquon Barkley collected the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.

• Iowa received the Disney Sports Spirit Award, given to the nation’s most inspirational player, team or figure in college football. The Hawkeyes were honored for their unique tradition at the end of the first quarter of each home game, where fans, players and officials alike stop and wave to the patients at the Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which overlooks Kinnick Stadium.

• Sixteen conference standouts were named All-Americans, including 10 that earned first-team distinction from at least one organization. In addition, six Big Ten players were named consensus All-Americans, including four unanimous first-team honorees. Iowa’s Josh Jackson and Josey Jewell, Ohio State’s Billy Price, and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley were each unanimous first-team All-Americans, while Michigan’s Maurice Hurst and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward earned consensus All-America status.

• Six Big Ten students were named Academic All-Americans, giving the Big Ten 94 honorees in the past 13 seasons. The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten are Iowa’s Anthony Nelson, Michigan State’s Cole Chewins, Nebraska’s Chris Weber and Rutgers’ Ryan Anderson. Iowa’s Parker Hesse and Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller both earned Academic All-America second-team accolades.

• Northwestern was one of seven schools to receive the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Academic Achievement Award, which was given to the programs with the highest NCAA Graduation Success Rate among freshman football students in the Class of 2010. The Wildcats had a perfect 100 GSR rating and earned the AFCA Academic Achievement Award for the 10th time since the honor was first presented in 1981.

• Seven Big Ten schools earned individual conference honors following the regular season, with honorees from Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Wisconsin. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley earned Graham-George Offensive Player and Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, while Iowa’s Josey Jewell earned Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year honors and Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year plaudits. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor was named the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year, while his coach, Paul Chryst, was named the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, as voted on by coaches, and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year, as chosen by a select media panel. The full list of All-Big Ten honorees and individual award winners can be found on bigten.org.

• Wisconsin’s Troy Vincent was named this year’s recipient of the Big Ten’s Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award, while Iowa’s Chad Greenway was chosen to receive the Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award. These awards recognize Big Ten football students who have achieved success in the areas of leadership and humanitarianism following their academic and athletic careers at a Big Ten university. Learn more at bigten.org.

• The Big Ten recognized a total of 446 football players who were named to the Academic All-Conference Team. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, students must be on a varsity team, as verified by being on the official squad list as of November 1 for fall sports, who have been enrolled fulltime at the institution for a minimum of 12 months 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.

• The Big Ten posted the fourth-highest single-season attendance total in conference history with 6,225,648 fans attending home games. This marks the fifth consecutive season and sixth time in seven years that more than six million fans have attended Big Ten home football games.

• Seven conference schools finished the season ranked among the top 25 in the nation in average attendance, including the top three schools in the country. Michigan led the nation in average attendance at 111,589, followed by No. 2 Ohio State (107,495) and No. 3 Penn State (106,707). Nebraska was 10th with 89,798 fans per contest, followed by No. 15 Wisconsin (78,824), No. 19 Michigan State (72,485) and No. 22 Iowa (66,337).

• Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett finished his collegiate career as the owner of four Big Ten career records, including most career total offensive yards (12,697), touchdown passes (104), touchdowns responsible for (147) and player of the week awards (nine). Barrett went 38-6 as a starter and guided the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and was named the quarterback of the year in the Big Ten three times, including each of the last two seasons.

• Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor broke the FBS freshman rushing record previously held by Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson (1,925 yards in 2004). He finished the season with 1,977 yards, the fourth-best single-season total in Wisconsin history.

• Taylor led the Big Ten with 1,368 rushing yards and 152.0 yards per outing in conference play. The last Badger to lead the Big Ten in rushing was Melvin Gordon with 206.0 yards per game in 2014.

• Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley was the conference leader in total offense in Big Ten play for the second consecutive season, averaging 307.7 yards per contest. McSorley became the first Big Ten player to pace the Big Ten in total offense in back-to-back seasons since Michigan’s Denard Robinson did so in 2010 and 2011.

• Maryland’s DJ Moore led the Big Ten in receptions per game in conference play with 6.4 per contest, while Nebraska’s JD Spielman paced the conference with 88.1 receiving yards per game in conference play. It is the first time that a player from either school has paced the Big Ten in a receiving category.

• Eight Big Ten schools finished the season ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, including two teams in the top 10. Wisconsin ranked third by holding opponents to 13.9 points per game, while Penn State ranked seventh with 16.5 points allowed per contest. Michigan followed in 13th with 18.8 points against per game, while Ohio State was 15th (19.0), Iowa was 17th (19.9), Michigan State was 19th (20.0), Northwestern was 20th (20.1) and Purdue was 24th (20.5).

• Iowa’s Joshua Jackson ended the year as the national leader with eight interceptions and 2.0 passes defended per game.

• The Big Ten will welcome one new head coach to the sidelines for the 2018 campaign in Nebraska’s Scott Frost. A member of two Husker national championship teams, Frost returns to his alma mater after two highly successful seasons as the head coach at UCF, where he guided the Knights to a perfect 13-0 season in 2017, and a 19-7 record in two seasons in Orlando.

• The Big Ten continued to feature the largest and most diverse postseason lineup in conference history this season, with 16 potential bowl destinations spread across the country. The Big Ten's bowl lineup is highlighted by 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 bowl lineup allows 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.

*Josh Jackson, Iowa - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
*Josey Jewell, Iowa - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
Devin Bush, Michigan - AP3, WC2
Maurice Hurst, Michigan - AFCA2, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA2, SN1, USA1, WC2
Nick Bosa, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP2, CBS2, SN2, USA2, WC2
*Billy Price, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP1, CBS2, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
Denzel Ward, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA2, SN1, USA1
*Saquon Barkley, Penn State - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA2, WC1
Mike Gesicki, Penn State - SN2
Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin - AP3, SI1
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin - SN2
David Edwards, Wisconsin - AFCA1, AP3, FWAA2, WC2
T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin - AFCA2, AP1, ESPN, SN2, USA1, WC2
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin - AFCA2, AP2, FWAA2, SI2, WC2
Nick Nelson, Wisconsin - CBS2
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin - AP2, CBS2, FWAA2, SN2, USA2, WC2

AFCA1/2 - American Football Coaches Association First or Second Team
AP1/2/3 - Associated Press First, Second or Third Team
CBS1/2 - CBSSports.com First or Second Team
FWAA1/2 - Football Writers Association of America First or Second Team
SI1/2 - Sports Illustrated First or Second Team
SN1/2 - Sporting News First or Second Team
USA1/2 - USA Today First or Second Team
WC1/2 - Walter Camp First or Second Team

Consensus All-Americans in bold
*—denotes Unanimous Consensus All-American

NOTE: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley was a first-team All-America selection on all five Consensus All-America lists, but was listed as a running back on two and all-purpose on the other three