1954 Big Ten Conference football season

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1954 Big Ten Conference football season
SportAmerican football
Number of teams10
Top draft pickAlan Ameche
ChampionOhio State
Runners-upWisconsin, Michigan
Season MVPAlan Ameche
Football seasons
← 1953
1955 →
1954 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 1 Ohio State $ 7 0 0     10 0 0
No. 9 Wisconsin 5 2 0     7 2 0
No. 15 Michigan 5 2 0     6 3 0
Minnesota 4 2 0     7 2 0
Iowa 4 3 0     5 4 0
Purdue 3 3 0     5 3 1
Indiana 2 4 0     3 6 0
Michigan State 1 5 0     3 6 0
Northwestern 1 5 0     2 7 0
Illinois 0 6 0     1 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1954 Big Ten Conference football season was the 59th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1954 college football season.

The 1954 Ohio State Buckeyes football team, under head coach Woody Hayes, won the conference football championship, compiled a 10–0, was ranked No. 1 in the final AP Poll, and defeated USC in the 1955 Rose Bowl. Halfback Howard Cassady was selected as the team's most valuable player and was a consensus first-team All-American.

The 1954 Wisconsin Badgers football team, under head coach Ivy Williamson, compiled a 7–2 record and was ranked No. 9 in the final AP Poll. Fullback Alan Ameche won the 1954 Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference. Ameche broke Ollie Matson's career rushing record, finishing his tenure at Wisconsin with 3,212 rushing yards.[1]

Purdue quarterback Len Dawson led the conference with 1,464 passing yards.

Season overview[edit]

Results and team statistics[edit]

Conf. Rank Team Head coach AP final AP high Overall record Conf. record PPG PAG MVP
1 Ohio State Woody Hayes #1 #1 10–0 7–0 24.9 7.5 Howard Cassady
2 (tie) Wisconsin Ivy Williamson #9 #2 7–2 5–2 22.2 10.9 Alan Ameche
2 (tie) Michigan Bennie Oosterbaan #15 #11 6–3 5–2 15.4 9.7 Fred Baer
4 Minnesota Murray Warmath NR #8 7–2 4–2 21.7 14.1 Bob McNamara
5 Iowa Forest Evashevski NR #3 5–4 4–3 21.3 15.7 Warren Lawson
6 Purdue Stu Holcomb NR #5 5–3–1 3–3 18.3 14.9 Tom Bettis
7 Indiana Bernie Crimmins NR NR 3–6 2–4 12.2 15.9 Florian Helinski
8 (tie) Michigan State Duffy Daugherty NR #6 3–6 1–5 19.7 16.6 John Matsock
8 (tie) Northwestern Bob Voigts NR NR 2-7 1-5 11.2 15.8 Ziggie Niepokoj
10 Illinois Ray Eliot NR #5 1–8 0–6 11.4 20.0 Jack Chamblin

Key
AP final = Team's rank in the final AP Poll of the 1954 season[2]
AP high = Team's highest rank in the AP Poll throughout the 1954 season[2]
PPG = Average of points scored per game; conference leader's average displayed in bold[2]
PAG = Average of points allowed per game; conference leader's average displayed in bold[2]
MVP = Most valuable player as voted by players on each team as part of the voting process to determine the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy; trophy winner in bold[3]

Preseason[edit]

Two Big Ten teams changed head coaches between the 1953 and 1954 seasons:

  • In December 1953, Wes Fesler resigned as Minnesota's head coach to accept a position as a partner, vice president and sports director at Minneapolis radio station WDGY.[4] In January 1954, Murray Warmath signed a four-year contract as Minnesota's new head football coach.[5]
  • In January 1954, Michigan State's head coach Clarence Munn was elevated to a new position as the school's athletic director. Longtime line coach Duffy Daugherty became the new head football coach.[6]

Regular season[edit]

September 25[edit]

On September 25, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played two conference games and six non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in five wins and one loss.

  • Ohio State 28, Indiana 0.
  • Wisconsin 52, Marquette 14.
  • Michigan 14, Washington 0.
  • Minnesota 19, Nebraska 7.
  • Iowa 14, Michigan State 10.
  • Purdue 31, Missouri 0.
  • Northwestern 27, Iowa State 14.
  • Penn State 14, Illinois 12.

October 2[edit]

On October 2, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played one conference game and eight non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in five wins and three losses, giving the Big Ten a 10–4 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 21, California 13.
  • Wisconsin 6, Michigan State 0.
  • Army 26, Michigan 7.
  • Minnesota 46, Pittsburgh 7.
  • Iowa 48, Montana 6.
  • Purdue 27, Notre Dame 14.
  • Indiana 34, Pacific 6.
  • USC 12, Northwestern 7.
  • Stanford 12, Illinois 2.

October 9[edit]

On October 9, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played four conference games and two non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in two wins, giving the Big Ten a 12–4 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 40, Illinois 7.
  • Wisconsin 13, Rice 7.
  • Michigan 14, Iowa 13.
  • Minnesota 26, Northwestern 7.
  • Purdue 13, Duke 13.
  • Michigan State 21, Indiana 14.

October 16[edit]

On October 16, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played four conference games and two non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in two losses, giving the Big Ten a 12–6 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 20, Iowa 14.
  • Wisconsin 20, Purdue 6.
  • Michigan 7, Northwestern 0.
  • Minnesota 19, Illinois 6.
  • Missouri 20, Indiana 14.
  • Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 19.

October 23[edit]

On October 23, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played four conference games and two non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in one win and one loss, giving the Big Ten a 13–7 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 14.
  • Michigan 34, Minnesota 0.
  • Iowa 27, Indiana 14.
  • Purdue 27, Michigan State 13.
  • Pittsburgh 14, Northwestern 7.
  • Illinois 34, Syracuse 6.

October 30[edit]

On October 30, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played against each other in five conference games.

  • Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7.
  • Iowa 13, Wisconsin 7.
  • Indiana 13, Michigan 9.
  • Minnesota 19, Michigan State 13.
  • Purdue 28, Illinois 14.

November 6[edit]

On November 6, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played three conference games and four non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in three wins and one loss, giving the Big Ten a 16–8 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 26, Pittsburgh 0.
  • Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 13.
  • Michigan 14, Illinois 7.
  • Minnesota 44, Oregon State 6.
  • Iowa 25, Purdue 14.
  • Miami (OH) 6, Indiana 0.
  • Michigan State 54, Washington State 6.

November 13[edit]

On November 13, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played against each other in five conference games.

  • Ohio State 28, Purdue 6.
  • Wisconsin 27, Illinois 14.
  • Michigan 33, Michigan State 7.
  • Minnesota 22, Iowa 20.
  • Indiana 14, Northwestern 13.

November 20[edit]

On November 20, 1954, the Big Ten football teams played four conference games and two non-conference games. The non-conference games resulted in one win and one loss, giving the Big Ten a 17–9 record in non-conference games played to that date.

  • Ohio State 21, Michigan 7.
  • Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 0.
  • Notre Dame 34, Iowa 18.
  • Purdue 13, Indiana 7.
  • Michigan State 40, Marquette 10.
  • Northwestern 20, Illinois 7.

Bowl games[edit]

On January 1, 1955, Ohio State (ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll) defeated USC (ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll) by a 20–7 score before a crowd of 89,191 in Pasadena, California. UCLA (ranked No. 2) was not permitted to play in the Rose Bowl due to the Pacific Coast Conference's no-repeat rule. Ohio State quarterback Dave Leggett was selected as the game's most valuable player.

Post-season developments[edit]

On February 3, 1955, Bob Voigts resigned as Northwestern's head football coach. Voigts had come under fire from alumni after Northwestern won only one conference game in two seasons.[7] Less than a week later, Lou Saban was announced as Voigts' replacement. Saban had been an assistant coach at Northwestern in 1954. He had played for Indiana in 1941 and 1942 and for the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1949.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

All-Big Ten honors[edit]

The following players were picked by the Associated Press (AP) and/or the sports editors (Ed) as first-team players on the 1954 All-Big Ten Conference football team.

Position Name Team Selectors
End Dean Dugger Ohio State AP, Ed
End Ron Kramer Michigan AP, Ed
Tackle Art Walker Michigan AP, Ed
Tackle Dick Hilinski Ohio State AP
Tackle Randy Schrecengost Michigan State Ed
Guard Cal Jones Iowa AP, Ed
Guard Tom Bettis Purdue AP, Ed
Center Gary Messner Wisconsin AP, Ed
Quarterback Len Dawson Purdue AP, Ed
Halfback Howard Cassady Ohio State AP, Ed
Halfback Bob McNamara Minnesota AP
Halfback Bobby Watkins Ohio State Ed
Fullback Alan Ameche Wisconsin AP, Ed

All-American honors[edit]

At the end of the 1954 season, Big Ten players secured three of 11 consensus first-team picks for the 1954 College Football All-America Team.[9] The Big Ten's consensus All-Americans were:

Position Name Team Selectors
Fullback Alan Ameche Wisconsin AAB, AFCA, AP, FWAA, INS, NEA, TSN, UP, CP, WCFF
Halfback Howard Cassady Ohio State AAB, AFCA, AP, FWAA, INS, NEA, TSN, UP, CP, WCFF
Guard Cal Jones Iowa AAB, FWAA, NEA, TSN, UP, CP, WCFF

Other Big Ten players who were named first-team All-Americans by at least one selector were:

Position Name Team Selectors
End Dean Dugger Ohio State FWAA
End Ron Kramer Michigan CP
Tackle Art Walker Michigan AAB, FWAA
Guard Tom Bettis Purdue FWAA, INS, CP
Halfback Bob McNamara Minnesota FWAA

Other awards[edit]

Wisconsin running back Alan Ameche won the 1954 Heisman Trophy.[10]

1955 NFL Draft[edit]

The following Big Ten players were among the first 100 picks in the 1955 NFL Draft:[11]

Name Position Team Round Overall pick
Fullback Alan Ameche Wisconsin 1 3
Guard Tom Bettis Purdue 1 5
End Jim Temp Wisconsin 2 17
Back Bobby Watkins Ohio State 2 23
Tackle John Hall Iowa 3 35
End Dean Dugger Ohio State 4 46
Guard Hank Bullough Michigan State 5 53
Guard Norm Amundsen Wisconsin 6 65
End Ron Locklin Wisconsin 6 68
Back Leroy Bolden Michigan State 6 73
Back Dave Leggett Ohio State 7 74
Back Bert Zagers Michigan State 7 84
Center Johnny Allen Purdue 8 87

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ameche Anxious To Play in Pro Ranks". Green Bay Press-Gazette. December 1, 1954.
  2. ^ a b c d "1954 Big Ten Conference Year Summary". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Wilfrid Smith (December 12, 1954). "Ameche Voted Big 10's Most Valuable: Badger Star Tops Cassady and M'Namara". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1.
  4. ^ "Fesler Resigns as Minn. Coach". The Bakersfield Californian. December 14, 1953. p. 38.
  5. ^ "Warmath New Minn. Coach". Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. January 30, 1954. p. 7.
  6. ^ "Munn, Daugherty Elevated at MSC". The Ludington Daily News. January 16, 1954. p. 1.
  7. ^ David Condon (February 4, 1955). "A Wildcat's Career, from Star Athlete to Coach, Comes to an End: Coaching Out, Says Graham As Voigts Quit Under Fire". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-1.
  8. ^ Wilfrid Smith (February 9, 1955). "Lou Saban Named N.U. Football Coach: Aid Succeeds Bob Voigs On One-Year Pact". Chicago Tribune. p. 3-1.
  9. ^ "2014 NCAA Football Records: Consensus All-America Selections" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2014. pp. 5–6. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  10. ^ "1954 Heisman Trophy Voting". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  11. ^ "1955 NFL Draft: Full Draft". NFL.com. National Football League. Retrieved January 4, 2017.