2016-17 Football Season in Review


Four conference teams earned spots in College Football Playoff bowls, with Ohio State being selected to participate in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 by the College Football Playoff selection committee and faced eventual national champion Clemson. In addition, Penn State was selected to participate in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, Michigan played in the Capital One Orange Bowl and Wisconsin took part in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
 
The 2016-17 season marked the third consecutive year and fifth time in conference history that three conference teams finished the season with at least 11 victories. Penn State and Wisconsin each concluded the year with 11-3 records, while Ohio State went 11-2. The Buckeyes have won at least 11 games in each of the last five seasons, while the Badgers have recorded at least 10 victories in six of the last eight seasons. For Penn State, this season marked the program’s first with at least 11 victories since back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2008 and 2009.

With bowl season complete, four Big Ten teams appeared among the top 12 in the final Associated Press (AP) and Amway coaches polls for just the fifth time in Big Ten history and second consecutive season. Ohio State ended the year ranked sixth in both polls, Penn State was seventh in each, Wisconsin was ninth in both rankings and Michigan was 10th in each poll.
 
The Big Ten has placed multiple schools among the top 10 in the final national rankings in eight of the last nine years, including:
 
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)


Penn State was crowned Big Ten Champion after its 38-31 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It was the Nittany Lions' fourth Big Ten title and first since 2008.

Three Big Ten students and one position group took home national honors. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers earned the Lott IMPACT Trophy as the defensive impact player of the year and the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player. Michigan's Jake Butt claimed the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end and Ohio State's Pat Elflein earned the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center. In addition, Iowa received the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation's top offensive line unit.
 
Butt was also named the recipient of the Senior CLASS Award for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I FBS football coaches, national football media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete who displays notable achievements in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition. He became the first Wolverine in school history to win this award in any sport and the fifth football player from the Big Ten to claim this honor, joining James Laurinaitis (Ohio State, 2008), Kirk Cousins (Michigan State, 2011), John Urschel (Penn State, 2013) and Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska, 2014).

Twenty-one conference standouts were named All-Americans, including 11 that earned first-team distinction from at least one organization. In addition, six Big Ten players were named consensus All-Americans, including three unanimous first-team honorees. Ohio State's Elflein and Malik Hooker, and Michigan's Peppers were each unanimous first-team All-Americans, while Michigan's Butt and Jourdan Lewis, and Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk earned consensus All-America status.

• Four Big Ten students were named Academic All-Americans, giving the Big Ten 88 honorees in the past 12 seasons. The Academic All-America first-team honorees from the Big Ten are Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard and Penn State’s Tyler Yazujian, who earned second-team honors last year. Northwestern's Austin Carr and Justin Jackson both earned Academic All-America second-team accolades.
 
Six Big Ten schools earned individual conference honors following the regular season, with honorees from Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley earned Graham-George Offensive Player and Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year honors, while Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers earned Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year honors, Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year plaudits and Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year recognition. Ohio State’s Mike Weber was named the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year. Wisconsin's Paul Chryst was named the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, as voted on by coaches, while Penn State's James Franklin received 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.

• Michigan’s Reggie McKenzie was named the recipient of the Big Ten’s Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award and Indiana’s Trent Green was honored with 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 310 football players who were named to the Academic All-Conference Team. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, students 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 Ten posted the second-highest single-season attendance total in conference history with 6,417,743 fans attending home games. This marks the fourth consecutive season and fifth time in six years that more than six million fans have attended Big Ten home football games.

• Seven conference schools finished the season ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance. Michigan led the nation in average attendance at 110,468, followed by No. 2 Ohio State (107,278), No. 7 Penn State (100,257), No. 10 Nebraska (90,200), No. 16 Wisconsin (79,357), No. 19 Michigan State (74,667) and No. 20 Iowa (69,656).

• Northwestern's Justin Jackson led the Big Ten with 1,040 rushing yards and 115.6 yards per outing in conference play. The last Wildcat to lead the Big Ten in rushing was Damien Anderson with 193.6 yards per game in 2000.

• Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley was the conference leader in total offense in Big Ten play, averaging 275.8 yards per contest. McSorley became the first Nittany Lion to pace the Big Ten in total offense since Kerry Collins in 1994.

• Northwestern’s Austin Carr led the Big Ten in both receptions and receiving yards in conference play with 7.3 receptions and 101.4 receiving yards per outing. The last Wildcat to rank first in those categories was D’Wayne Bates with 6.9 catches per game in 1998 and Jeremy Ebert with 73.3 yards per contest in 2010.
 
Six Big Ten schools finished the season ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, including three teams in the top five. Michigan ranked second by holding opponents to 14.1 points per game, while Ohio State ranked third with 15.5 points allowed per contest and Wisconsin followed in fourth with 15.6 points against per game. Iowa was 13th after allowing 18.8 points per game, followed by Minnesota in 21st at 22.1 and Northwestern in 24th with 22.2.
 
Indiana’s Tegray Scales ended the year as the national leader with 1.8 tackles for loss per game. He also ranked second in the nation in solo tackles, averaging 7.2 per contest.

• The Big Ten will welcome three new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2017 campaign in Indiana’s Tom Allen, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm.

• Allen first joined the Indiana football staff as associate head coach in 2016. A 25-year coaching veteran, Allen helped lead a dramatic turnaround of Indiana's defense in 2016, just as he had done before at Ole Miss and the University of South Florida.

• Fleck heads to Minnesota after spending four years as the head coach at Western Michigan, where he was 30-22 overall and 21-11 in the Mid-American Conference. While leading the Broncos, Fleck authored one of the most memorable turnarounds in college football history. The Broncos were 1-11 in his first year in 2013, but ended last season with a 13-1 record, a conference championship and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
 
Brohm comes to Purdue from Western Kentucky University, where he compiled a 30-10 overall record, including a 19-5 Conference USA mark, from 2014 to 2016. The Hilltoppers were league champions in 2015 and 2016, the first back-to-back titles as an FBS member in school history. 

• Beginning in 2016, each school played three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games 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 player will have the opportunity to play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period. The Big Ten returned 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.

• 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. 


BIG TEN ALL-AMERICANS

Dan Feeney, Indiana - AP1, CBS2, WC2
Tegray Scales, Indiana - SI2
Desmond King, Iowa - AP2, FWAA2, SI1, USA1, WC2
Sean Welsh, Iowa - USA2
Jake Butt, Michigan - AFCA1, AP2, SI2, SN2, WC1
Kyle Kalis, Michigan - AFCA2
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA2, SI1, SN1, WC1
*Jabrill Peppers, Michigan - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
Chris Wormley, Michigan - SN2
Malik McDowell, Michigan State - CBS2, SI2
Nathan Gerry, Nebraska - AP3, USA2
Austin Carr, Northwestern - AP3, SI2, USA2
*Pat Elflein, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
*Malik Hooker, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA1, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC1
Cameron Johnston, Ohio State - AP2, USA2, WC2
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State - AFCA2, AP2, SI2, SN2, USA2, WC2
Billy Price, Ohio State - AFCA1, AP2, SI2, SN2, WC2
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State - AP1, FWAA2, SN1
Saquon Barkley, Penn State - AP3, SN2
Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin - AP1, CBS1, ESPN, FWAA2, SI1, SN1, USA1, WC2
T.J. Watt, Wisconsin - AP2, CBS2, ESPN, SI1

Key:
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
ESPN - ESPN.com
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