The Best Big Ten Football Teams of All Time
The Big Ten is known to be the longest-running collegiate athletic conference in the United States. It’s called the Big Ten because when it was created, only ten schools were part of the conference, but as time passes, more universities are showing interest in joining the Big Ten.
Today, there are 14 schools in the Big Ten Conference. The conference facilitators have accepted different schools to balance the number of participants in the West and East divisions.
Approximately 44.6 million fans have been following the Big Ten Conference. It trails the Southeastern Conference with 54.1 million spectators. While at it, let’s find out which Big Ten football clubs have hooked the most patrons and what makes them the best in the conference.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Representing Ohio State University, the Buckeyes have produced seven Heisman winners. It was the only two-time receiver of the prestigious award. The very first Ohio State Buckeyes was founded in 1890. The football team has earned 41 conference championship titles, including 39 Big Ten titles. In 2014, the Buckeyes remarkably won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game.
The Michigan Wolverines’ first game happened in 1879. Collegiate football fans remember Michigan Wolverines as the team with the best fight song. The players’ helmets were also outstanding. Coached by Jim Harbaugh, the Michigan Wolverines have been the greatest rival of Ohio State Buckeyes. The two are the most successful clubs in NCAA Division I football.
For the record, the two teams have met in the field 118 times. Between the two, the Michigan Buckeyes hold the record for the longest unbeaten streak in 1897-1918. The club also holds the current win streak, winning in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Played its first game in 1877 as an independent club, the Penn State Nittany Lions, coached by James Franklins, has grown to become the top-performing football club in the Big Ten Conference since. The Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993 and have won four titles since then. The club claimed the title in 1994, 2004, 2008, and 2016. It has produced one Heisman awardee and two consensus national championships in 1982 and 1986.
Drilled by Matt Rhule, the Nebraska Cornhuskers debuted in 1890 and was originally an independent team and later became part of the Western Interstate University Football Association. Since 1962, the Cornhuskers have played games at the Memorial Stadium, Tom Osborne Field. The venue has hosted sold-out games ever since. The team has produced three Heisman winners. There are also five Cornhuskers inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Playing for Indiana University Bloomington, the club has been playing the sport in the Memorial Stadium since 1960. Tom Allen has been coaching the team for seven seasons today. Since its debut, the Indiana Hoosiers have claimed two Big Ten championship titles (1945 and 1967) and appeared in 12 Bowl games.
The Hoosiers have produced six players that got inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The 1989 National Player of the Year, Anthony Thompson, was the most accomplished Indiana player. In 2023, four Indiana footballers made it to the NFL draft player rankings, with Cam Jones leading the team at rank 183.
Michigan State Spartans
Headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans football team has been playing since 1896. Currently coached by Mel Tucker, the State Spartans have claimed six national titles, eleven conference titles (including nine Big Ten), and three division titles. It was part of the “Game of Century” along with its rival in 1966, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The game’s thrilling match ended 10-10, with the Fighting Irish being able to preserve its rank as the No. 1 in the competition. Though the game wasn’t broadcasted on national television. It was considered the most controversial collegiate football match in history
Representing the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the Wisconsin Badgers regularly compete in the Big Ten Conference. Currently coached by Luke Fickell, the Wisconsin Badgers have played in the conference since its inception in 1896. The program has produced two Heisman Trophy winners, and 11 players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The club has a total of 11 conference titles and 5 division titles.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have been competing in the West division of the Big Ten Conference since 1900. The collegiate club has 13 conference championship titles, including 11 Big Ten titles. The team from the University of Iowa also has two division titles. Moreover, it has produced one Heisman Trophy winner.
Many football superstars were once collegiate football players who took pride in bringing wins to their schools. They might have become the most decorated footballers of their generation. Still, their accomplishments could be significantly attributed to their encounters in the Big Ten conferences and the drilling they got from their college coaches.
The Big Ten programs included here are the best in college football. This could be proven by their long history of success in different levels of collegiate football leagues.