Big Ten Football Championship Game

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Big Ten Football Championship Game
Conference Football Championship
Big Ten Football Championship Game Logo.svg
Championship Game Logo
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
Current stadiumLucas Oil Stadium
Current locationIndianapolis, Indiana
Last contest2018
Current championOhio State
Most championshipsOhio State (3)
TV partner(s)FOX Sports (2011–present)
Dr Pepper (2011–2016)
Discover (2017–current)

The Big Ten Football Championship Game is a college football game that is held by the Big Ten Conference each year since 2011 to determine the conference's season champion. 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 game is held the first Saturday of December at 8 PM Eastern.

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, 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.[1]


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 (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.[2]

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.[3] 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,[4] 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.[5]

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.[3]

On June 5, 2014 the Big Ten Conference announced via press release that the Big Ten Football Championship game would continue to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium through the 2021 season.[6][7]

Conference expansion[edit]

The Big Ten expanded to 11 schools by adding Penn State in 1990,[8] 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,[9] and later Notre Dame[10]) 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.[11]

In November 2012, the Big Ten announced that Maryland[12] and Rutgers[13] would join the conference in 2014, which brought conference membership up to 14 schools.

Team selection[edit]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]


Year Legends Division Leaders Division Site Attendance Viewers (millions) TV Rating MVP
2011 11 Michigan State Spartans 39 15 Wisconsin Badgers 42 Lucas Oil StadiumIndianapolis, IN 64,152 7.8 4.6 QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
2012 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers 31 Wisconsin Badgersdagger 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 (millions) TV Rating MVP
2014 6 Ohio State Buckeyes 59 11 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 8 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 3 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

Rankings from the AP Poll released prior to the game

dagger 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[edit]

Appearances School Wins Losses Pct. Year(s) Won Year(s) Lost
5 Wisconsin 2 3 .400 2011, 2012 2014, 2016, 2017
4 Ohio State 3 1 .750 2014, 2017, 2018 2013
3 Michigan State 2 1 .667 2013, 2015 2011
1 Penn State 1 0 1.000 2016  
1 Iowa 0 1 .000   2015
1 Nebraska 0 1 .000   2012
1 Northwestern 0 1 .000   2018

Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue, and Rutgers have yet to make an appearance in a Big Ten Football Championship Game.

Media Coverage[edit]


Date Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
December 3, 2011 FOX Gus Johnson Charles Davis Tim Brewster and Dhani Jones
December 1, 2012 Julie Alexandria
December 7, 2013 Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink
December 6, 2014 Molly McGrath
December 5, 2015 Joel Klatt
December 3, 2016 Shannon Spake
December 2, 2017 Jenny Taft
December 1, 2018
December 7, 2019


Date Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
December 7, 2013 Compass Media Networks Gregg Daniels Dale Hellestrae
December 6, 2014
December 5, 2015
December 3, 2016
December 2, 2017
December 1, 2018
December 7, 2019

Local Radio[edit]

Date Flagship station Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
December 7, 2013 WBNS-AM/FM (Ohio State)
WMMQ/WJIM-AM/WJR(Michigan State)
Paul Keels
George Blaha
Jim Lachey
Jason Strayhorn
Marty Bannister
Otis Wiley
December 6, 2014 WIBA-AM/FM (Wisconsin)
WBNS-AM/FM (Ohio State)
Matt Lepay
Paul Keels
Mike Lucas
Jim Lachey
Scott Nelson
Marty Bannister
December 5, 2015 WHO-AM/WMT-AM (Iowa)
WMMQ/WJIM-AM/WJR(Michigan State)
Gary Dolphin
George Blaha
Ed Podolak
Jason Strayhorn
Rob Brooks
Otis Wiley
December 3, 2016 WQWK AM (Penn State)
WIBA-AM/FM (Wisconsin)
Steve Jones
Matt Lepay
Jack Ham
Mike Lucas
Derrick Williams
Scott Nelson
December 2, 2017 WBNS-AM/FM (Ohio State)
WIBA-AM/FM (Wisconsin)
Paul Keels
Matt Lepay
Jim Lachey
Mike Lucas
Matt Andrews
Scott Nelson
December 1, 2018 WBNS-AM/FM (Ohio State)
WGN-AM (Northwestern)
Paul Keels
Dave Eanet
Jim Lachey
Ted Albrecht
Matt Andrews
Adam Hoge
December 7, 2019

Game Records[edit]


Individual passing yards – 499, Dwayne Haskins, OSU (2018)

Individual passing TDs – 5, Dwayne Haskins, OSU (2018)

Team passing yards – 499, Ohio State (2018)

Team passing TDs – 5, Ohio State (2018)

Longest Pass – 85, C. J. Beathard, Iowa (2015)


Individual rushing yards – 220, Ezekiel Elliott, OSU (2014)

Individual rushing TDs – 4, James White, WIS (2012)

Team rushing yards – 539, Wisconsin (2012)

Longest rush – 81, Ezekiel Elliott, OSU (2014)


Individual receiving yards – 155, Saeed Blacknall, PSU (2016)

Individual receiving TDs – 3, B. J. Cunningham, MSU (2011) and Devin Smith, OSU (2014)

Longest reception – 85, Tevaun Smith, Iowa (2015)

Total Offense[edit]

Individual total yards – 494, Dwayne Haskins, OSU (2018)

Individual total TDs – 5, James White, WIS (2012) and Dwayne Haskins, OSU (2018)

Team total yards – 640, Wisconsin (2012)


Tackles – 16, Jerome Baker, OSU (2017)

Interceptions – 2, Doran Grant, OSU (2014)

Selection criteria[edit]

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.[18] 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 cancelled 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[edit]

If only two teams remain after any of the following steps, the tiebreaker will revert to the two-team tiebreaker above.

  1. The records of the three tied teams will be compared against each other.
  2. The records of the three tied teams will be compared within their division.
  3. 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).
  4. The records of the three tied teams will be compared against all common conference opponents.
  5. The team with the best overall winning percentage (excluding exempted games) will be the representative.
  6. The representative will be chosen by random draw.

See also[edit]

List of NCAA Division I FBS conference championship games


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  2. ^ "Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium Selected as Proposed Site for 2011 Big Ten Football Championship Game". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. August 5, 2010. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Soldier Field good bet to host Big Ten title game". November 18, 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  4. ^ "MediaPost Publications Fox Moves to Majority Position in Big Ten Network 08/30/2011". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
  5. ^ "Big Ten Announces Media Agreement with FOX Sports to Televise 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. November 17, 2010. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Axson, Scooby (2014-05-13). "Big Ten announces future sites for football championship game, basketball tournaments | SI Wire". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
  7. ^ "Big Ten Announces Extension of Football Championship Games in Indianapolis and Basketball Tournaments in Chicago and Indianapolis - BIG TEN CONFERENCE Official Athletic Site". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
  8. ^ "An Ingenious Inception: Penn State Joins the Big Ten Conference". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. September 11, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  9. ^ Sherman, Ed (December 10, 1993). "Kansas, Big 10 a good fit?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  10. ^ "Notre Dame shuns Big Ten, fears losing 'distinctiveness'". National Catholic Reporter. February 19, 1999. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  11. ^ "University of Nebraska Approved to Join Big Ten Conference by Council of Presidents/Chancellors'". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. June 11, 2010. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  12. ^ "University Of Maryland To Join The Big Ten Conference" (Press release). Big Ten Conference. November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  13. ^ "Rutgers University To Join The Big Ten Conference" (Press release). Big Ten Conference. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  14. ^ "Big Ten sets new divisions; splits up Illinois-NU". September 1, 2010. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  15. ^ "Big Ten Conference Reveals New Logo and Honors Football History with Division Names and Trophies". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. December 13, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "Big Ten Schools to Play Nine Conference Games Beginning With 2017 Season". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. August 4, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "Big Ten Conference Football Divisional Tiebreaker". The Big Ten Conference Official Site. September 1, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.