Big Ten Football Championship Game
|Big Ten Football Championship Game|
|Conference Football Championship|
|Conference||Big Ten Conference|
|Current stadium||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Current location||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Current champion||Ohio State|
|Most championships||Wisconsin (2)|
|TV partner(s)||FOX Sports (2011–2016)|
The Big Ten Football Championship Game is a college football game that is held by the Big Ten Conference each year to determine the conference's season champion. The inaugural game was played on December 3, 2011. The games during the next two seasons were held on December 1, 2012, and December 7, 2013. The championship game will pit the division champions from the conference's West and East divisions in a game held after the regular season has been completed.
The winner of this game will earn the Big Ten's automatic berth in the Rose Bowl Game, unless the team is selected to play in the four-team College Football Playoff. If this is the case, they will go to one of the bowls hosting the national semifinals. The winner of this game will also receive the Stagg Championship Trophy (formerly the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, however Paterno's name was removed following the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State), and the most valuable player of this game will receive the Grange-Griffin Championship Game Most Valuable Player Trophy.
The conference currently has a deal making Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis the site of the championship game through 2021.
Prior to the 2011 college football season, the Big Ten Conference determined its champion through regular season play, and, as there were only 11 member schools, there was no possibility for a conference championship game because the NCAA requires (for holding a conference championship game) that the conference have 12 teams with two divisions.
In 2010, the Big Ten Conference added the University of Nebraska, bringing the membership total to 12 teams. Thus, the conference was able to meet NCAA requirements. On August 5, 2010 Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany announced Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis had been chosen as the possible site for the inaugural championship game. The league office began a 30-day period to negotiate a one-year agreement with Indiana Sports Corp and Lucas Oil Stadium to host the game. Delany also announced that once the 2011 agreement was in place, the conference office would conduct a thorough process over the next year to determine the location of the Big Ten Football Championship Game in 2012 and beyond.
On November 17, 2010, the Big Ten Conference announced a media agreement with FOX Sports to serve as the official broadcast partner for the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. A source at the time stated that the six-year agreement with FOX Sports would be worth between $20–$25 million per season, making it one of the most valuable conference championship games in college football. In the league's press release, it was confirmed that the 2011 event will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The events will be played in prime time. Because FOX is a majority partner in the Big Ten Network, this may allow for the possibility of more involvement by the Big Ten Network in the event, including the use of Big Ten Network staff in the game coverage.
Commissioner Delany also stated at that time that the Big Ten would strongly consider rotating the site of the game, mentioning other possible host cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Green Bay, and Cleveland.
The Big Ten expanded to 11 schools by adding Penn State in 1990, but this did not yet meet the NCAA's requirements for holding a conference championship game (that the conference have 12 teams with two divisions). A few other times during that period, there were talks between the Big Ten and other schools (namely, Kansas, Missouri, and Rutgers, and later Notre Dame) which might have led to the possibility of a conference with two divisions of at least six teams and a conference championship, but for various reasons, nothing came to fruition.
It wasn't until December 2009, when Commissioner Delany announced that the league would explore the possibility of adding one or more institutions, that the wheels were set in motion that would lead to the Big Ten adding a school for the first time in 20 years. Less than a year later, on June 11, 2010, Nebraska applied for membership and was unanimously accepted by the conference's 11 member schools. Its membership became effective on July 1, 2011.
After the addition of Nebraska to the conference, there was much debate over what would be the best division of the 12 schools. Some felt that it would be best to maintain geographical divisions. Others felt that geography should only be a factor insofar as there was competitive balance between the two divisions. Another very important factor for Big Ten schools was the maintenance of long-standing rivalries that the schools held with each other.
On September 1, 2010, Commissioner Delany revealed the two divisions. They were provisionally called X and O.
Later, on December 13, 2010, Commissioner Delany announced that the two divisions would be called Legends and Leaders. The scheduling arrangement for the schools was that they would face each of the other schools in their division, plus three crossover opponents, one of which would be permanent.
On August 4, 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced that there would be a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2017, allowing schools to play four crossover opponents. However, the Big Ten and Pac-12 later announced a multi-sport scheduling agreement that provides for each member school to play one non-conference football game per year against an opponent from the other conference, and with this announcement, the Big Ten backed away from the nine-game conference schedule proposal.
Following the 2014 entry of Maryland and Rutgers, the "Leaders" and "Legends" divisions were set aside and replaced by geographic divisions, with the schools in the Central Time Zone plus Purdue forming the new West Division and the remaining members forming the East Division. In addition, the conference will adopt a nine-game schedule beginning in 2016.
|Season||Leaders Division||Legends Division||Site||Attendance||MVP|
|2011||#15 Wisconsin||42||#11 Michigan State||39||Lucas Oil Stadium • Indianapolis, IN||64,152||QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin|
|2012||Wisconsin||70||#14 Nebraska||31||Lucas Oil Stadium • Indianapolis, IN||41,260||RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin|
|2013||#2 Ohio State||24||#10 Michigan State||34||Lucas Oil Stadium • Indianapolis, IN||66,002||QB Connor Cook, Michigan State|
|Season||East Division||West Division||Site||Attendance||MVP|
|2014||#6 Ohio State||59||#11 Wisconsin||0||Lucas Oil Stadium • Indianapolis, IN||60,229||QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State|
Rankings from the AP Poll.
In 2012 Wisconsin finished third in the Leaders division, but division champion Ohio State and second place Penn State were banned from postseason play due to sanctions.
Results by team
On September 1, 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced the divisional tiebreaker procedures that will be used to determine the representatives in the championship game. Division standings are based on each team's overall conference record. Teams that are ineligible to play in a postseason bowl game will not be allowed to participate in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. In the event that two teams are tied, the head-to-head results between those two teams determines the tiebreaker.
Three or more-team tiebreaker procedure
If only two teams remain after any of the following steps, the tiebreaker will revert to the two-team tiebreaker above.
- The records of the three tied teams will be compared against each other.
- The records of the three tied teams will be compared within their division.
- The records of the three tied teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5, and 6).
- The records of the three tied teams will be compared against all common conference opponents.
- The team with the best overall winning percentage (excluding exempted games) will be the representative.
- The representative will be chosen by random draw.
Procedure in the case of ineligible division champions
If one or both of the division champions are ineligible to play in the championship game, the following procedure will be followed:
- If the ineligible team is tied with an eligible team, the eligible team will be the championship game representative.
- If two or more teams are tied with an ineligible team, then the ineligible team is removed and the remaining teams revert to the tie-break procedure. If two teams, then head-to-head; if three or more teams, then by three-team tiebreaker procedure.
- If the ineligible team is the sole division winner, the highest-placed eligible team in the division shall be the championship game representative.
- If there is a division runner-up tie, then the tied teams will revert to the tie-break procedure.
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