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||Ohio State (5)|
|TV partner(s)||Fox (2011–present)|
|Dr Pepper (2011–2016)|
The Big Ten Football Championship Game is a college football game held by the Big Ten Conference each year to determine the conference's season champion. The game, held after the regular season has been completed, matches the division champions from the conference's West and East divisions. It is typically held the first Saturday of December, although in 2020 it was played on the third Saturday of December. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis has been the site of the championship game since its inception in 2011 and is scheduled to host through 2021. Since 2017, the game's official title has been the "Big Ten College Football Championship Game Presented by Discover" following a sponsorship deal with Discover Financial.
The winner of this game earns 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 and/or the Rose Bowl is one of the playoff semi-finals. The winning team also receives the Stagg Championship Trophy, while the most valuable player of the game receives the Grange–Griffin Championship Game Most Valuable Player Trophy. Through the 2020 game, Wisconsin and Ohio State have the most appearances in the game with six, while Ohio State has the most wins with five.
Prior to the 2011 college football season, the Big Ten Conference determined its conference representative through regular season play, and, as there were only 11 member schools, there was no possibility for a conference championship game because, at the time, the NCAA required that a conference have 12 teams with two divisions in order to hold a conference championship game.
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 that 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 2011–2016 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 would take place at Lucas Oil Stadium 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 was not 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.
The two participating teams in the game are the first place teams from each of the conference's two divisions.
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 how the teams would be placed into the two divisions. On December 13, 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. The permanent crossover opponent would be used to ensure that long standing historical rivalries would continue.
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 adopted a nine-game schedule beginning in 2016.
In December 2020, the Big Ten Conference waived the six-game minimum requirement for a team to participate in the championship game; Ohio State, which had a 5–0 record after playing a limited scheduled impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, would otherwise have been ineligible to participate. The Big Ten stated, "The decision was based on a competitive analysis which determined that Ohio State would have advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game based on its undefeated record and head-to-head victory over Indiana regardless of a win or loss against Michigan."
|Year||Legends Division||Leaders Division||Site||Attendance||Viewers
|2011||11 Michigan State Spartans||39||15 Wisconsin Badgers||42||Lucas Oil Stadium
|64,152||7.8||4.6||QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin|
|2012||14 Nebraska Cornhuskers||31||Wisconsin Badgers[n 1]||70||41,260||4.9||3.0||RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin|
|2013||10 Michigan State Spartans||34||2 Ohio State Buckeyes||24||66,002||13.9||7.9||QB Connor Cook, Michigan State|
|Year||East Division||West Division||Attendance||Viewers
|2014||5 Ohio State Buckeyes||59||13 Wisconsin Badgers||0||60,229||6.1||3.5||QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State|
|2015||5 Michigan State Spartans||16||4 Iowa Hawkeyes||13||66,985||9.8||5.7||QB Connor Cook, Michigan State|
|2016||7 Penn State Nittany Lions||38||6 Wisconsin Badgers||31||65,018||9.2||5.2||QB Trace McSorley, Penn State|
|2017||8 Ohio State Buckeyes||27||4 Wisconsin Badgers||21||65,886||12.9||7.3||RB J. K. Dobbins, Ohio State|
|2018||6 Ohio State Buckeyes||45||21 Northwestern Wildcats||24||66,375||8.7||5.0||QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State|
|2019||1 Ohio State Buckeyes||34||8 Wisconsin Badgers||21||66,649||13.6||3.6||QB Justin Fields, Ohio State|
|2020||4 Ohio State Buckeyes||22||14 Northwestern Wildcats||10||3,178||8.0||4.7||RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State|
- 2011–2013 rankings from the AP Poll released prior to the game;
- 2014–present rankings from College Football Playoff Poll released prior to the game.
Results by team
|Appearances||School||Wins||Losses||Pct.||Year(s) Won||Year(s) Lost|
|6||Ohio State Buckeyes||5||1||.800||2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020||2013|
|6||Wisconsin Badgers||2||4||.333||2011, 2012||2014, 2016, 2017, 2019|
|3||Michigan State Spartans||2||1||.667||2013, 2015||2011|
|2||Northwestern Wildcats||0||2||.000||2018, 2020|
|1||Penn State Nittany Lions||1||0||1.000||2016|
|Year||Network||Play-by-play||Color commentator(s)||Sideline reporter(s)|
|2011||Fox||Gus Johnson||Charles Davis||Tim Brewster and Dhani Jones|
|2013||Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink|
|2013||Compass Media Networks||Gregg Daniels||Dale Hellestrae|
This section does not cite any sources. (December 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Individual passing yards||499||Dwayne Haskins||Ohio State||2018|
|Individual passing touchdowns||5|
|Team passing yards||499||Ohio State||2018|
|Team passing touchdowns||5|
|Longest pass||85||C. J. Beathard||Iowa||2015|
|Individual rushing yards||331||Trey Sermon||Ohio State||2020|
|Individual rushing touchdowns||4||James White||Wisconsin||2012|
|Team rushing yards||539||Wisconsin||2012|
|Longest rush||81||Ezekiel Elliott||Ohio State||2014|
|Individual receiving yards||155||Saeed Blacknall||Penn State||2016|
|Individual receiving touchdowns||3||B. J. Cunningham
|Longest reception||85||Tevaun Smith||Iowa||2015|
|Individual total yards||494||Dwayne Haskins||Ohio State||2018|
|Individual total touchdowns||5||James White
|Team total yards||640||Wisconsin||2012|
|Tackles||16||Jerome Baker||Ohio State||2017|
|Interceptions||2||Doran Grant||Ohio State||2014|
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, excluding teams ineligible for postseason because of sanctions. In the event that two teams are tied, the head-to-head results between those two teams determines the tiebreaker. Unlike the Southeastern Conference, whose rules were established before NCAA overtime and has provisions in case the two tied teams' game is either canceled or tied because of inclement weather (NCAA rules permit drawn games if, after three periods have been played, a game is tied when the game is called off because of inclement weather, including reaching curfew), the Big Ten does not have a policy in case the head-to-head result is a tie because of inclement weather.
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 or more tied teams will be compared against each other.
- The records of the three or more tied teams will be compared within their division.
- The records of the three or more tied teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5, 6, and 7).
- The records of the three or more 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.
- Both first place Ohio State and second place Penn State received postseason bans, thus third place Wisconsin represented the Leaders Division.
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- "University Of Maryland To Join The Big Ten Conference" (Press release). Big Ten Conference. November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
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- "Big Ten sets new divisions; splits up Illinois-NU". ChicagoBreakingSports.com. September 1, 2010. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
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- "Big Ten Schools to Play Nine Conference Games Beginning With 2017 Season". BigTen.org: The Big Ten Conference Official Site. August 4, 2011. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- "Big Ten Announces Football Division Alignments and Move to Nine-Game Conference Schedules" (Press release). Big Ten Conference. April 28, 2013. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Ohio State will Advance to Big Ten Football Championship Game". bigten.org. December 9, 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
- Nebraska vs. Wisconsin - Game summary
- "Big Ten Conference Football Divisional Tiebreaker". BigTen.org: The Big Ten Conference Official Site. September 1, 2011. Archived from the original on August 23, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.