What if Nebraska had been a Big Ten Conference member for the past 15 seasons and the 12 schools competed in two six-team divisions for a decade and a half? BTN.com partnered with WhatIfSports and Narrative Science to simulate those mythical Big Ten Conference football seasons. Below is the 1999 season. Click here for the other seasons.
1999 Big Ten Championship:
WEEK 1: GAME OF THE WEEK - PURDUE 26, OHIO STATE 22
|WEEK 1 RESULTS|
|Michigan State 37, Iowa 10|
|Minnesota 22, Michigan 15|
|Penn State 28, Illinois 19|
|Wisconsin 38, Northwestern 5|
Purdue defeats Ohio State in overtime 26-22
In the first week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Purdue visited Leaders Division foe Ohio State. The Boilermakers needed extra time to beat the Buckeyes as they beat Ohio State 26-22 in two overtimes.
After the Buckeyes kicked a field goal on their drive, Purdue scored on Drew Brees’ 25-yard touchdown pass to capture the victory.
Brees and Vinny Sutherland had a passing connection going, as Sutherland racked up 50 yards and two touchdowns on three catches en route to a win for the Boilermakers.
Purdue’s explosive offense used big plays to take down Ohio State. The Boilermakers burned the Buckeyes’ defense for four plays of more than 20 yards. Brees threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Sutherland on Purdue’s longest play on the day. The touchdown gave the Boilermakers a 26-22 lead.
Kenny Peterson terrorized Purdue’s line with two sacks. On a critical drive in the fourth quarter, he sacked Brees on third-and-6 for an eight-yard loss.
Ohio State racked up 415 total yards. Along with Steve Bellisari’s stats in the passing game, the Buckeyes also added 263 yards rushing on 57 attempts.
The Boilermakers’ Brees passed for 278 yards, completing 20 of 40 throws. He tossed two touchdowns and gave up no interceptions. Brees was also a threat on the ground, as he rushed for 33 yards on 12 attempts. Brees looked for Chris Daniels often. He hauled in nine catches for 113 yards.
Purdue’s offense finished the game having gained 373 yards. The Boilermakers’ rushing attack contributed 95 yards on 40 carries in addition to Brees’ passing effort.
WEEK 2: GAME OF THE WEEK – PURDUE 32, ILLINOIS 28
|WEEK 2 RESULTS|
|Nebraska 36, Northwestern 3|
|Ohio State 31, Iowa 18|
|Minnesota 20, Penn State 17|
|Wisconsin 39, Indiana 11|
Big comeback helps Boilermakers past Fighting Illini, 32-28
In the second week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Purdue visited Leaders Division foe Illinois. The Fighting Illini fell victim to a furious the Boilermakers comeback, as Purdue pulled out a 32-28 win.
Things didn’t look good for the Boilermakers when they trailed by 11 points in the fourth quarter. However, Purdue eventually battled back to take the lead with 1:31 remaining in the fourth quarter when Drew Brees found Vinny Sutherland open for a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Brees mounted the Boilermakers’ unstoppable air attack, finishing with 293 passing yards and three touchdowns on 21 completions.
Despite taking the loss, Kurt Kittner gave Illinois a fighting chance thanks to a big game through the air. Kittner threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns on 25-for-39 passing.
Winston Taylor led the Fighting Illini’s defensive assault, as he finished with one interception and one sack. He intercepted Brees on second-and-8 during a key drive in the fourth quarter.
Illinois racked up 418 total yards. The Fighting Illini complemented Kittner’s passing with 123 yards rushing on 46 attempts.
Purdue’s offense finished the game having gained 441 yards. Along with Brees’ stats in the passing game, the Boilermakers also added 148 yards rushing on 39 attempts.
WEEK 3: GAME OF THE WEEK – MINNESOTA 22, MICHIGAN STATE 20
|WEEK 3 RESULTS|
|Illinois 29, Northwestern 11|
|Michigan 35, Iowa 14|
|Ohio State 28, Indiana 20|
|Nebraska 30, Purdue 7|
Minnesota fights off Michigan State for 22-20 win
In the third week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Michigan State visited Legends Division foe Minnesota. The Spartans tried valiantly, but couldn’t climb out of a 13-point hole against the Golden Gophers, and ended up on the losing end of a 22-20 final.
Thomas Hamner carried the offensive load for Minnesota, piling up 159 rushing yards and one touchdown on 33 attempts.
Lloyd Clemons did his best to carry Michigan State’s offense, turning 18 carries into 81 rushing yards and one touchdown.
The Golden Gophers’ Billy Cockerham went 11 of 21 through the air for a total of 126 yards. He also threw no interceptions.
Minnesota’s offense finished the game having gained 303 yards. In addition to Cockerham’s efforts through the air, the Golden Gophers also rushed 58 times for 177 yards.
Aric Morris and Robaire Smith teamed up to lead the Spartans’ defense. Morris was all over the action, terrorizing Minnesota’s line for two sacks. On a critical drive in the second quarter, he sacked Cockerham on second-and-7 for an eight-yard loss.
Bill Burke threw for 195 yards while completing 17 of 32 passes for Michigan State. He also threw no interceptions. Burke’s favorite target on the day was Plaxico Burress. He hauled in five catches for 56 yards.
The Spartans racked up 282 total yards. Along with Burke’s stats in the passing game, Michigan State also added 87 yards rushing on 35 attempts.
WEEK 4: GAME OF THE WEEK – ILLINOIS 34, INDIANA 19
|WEEK 4 RESULTS|
|Minnesota 38, Iowa 8|
|Michigan State 21, Michigan 18|
|Wisconsin 34, Ohio State 11|
|Nebraska 23, Penn State 8|
Kittner and Havard team up to send Fighting Illini past Hoosiers 34-19
In the fourth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Indiana visited Leaders Division foe Illinois. Kurt Kittner and Steve Havard teamed up to lead the Fighting Illini to a 34-19 victory over the Hoosiers.
Kittner racked up 328 yards through the air and Havard rumbled for 75 yards on the ground.
Illinois operated its air game to perfection in dismantling the Indiana defense. The Fighting Illini’s air attack was uncontainable, as they torched the Hoosiers for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Kittner completed 20 of 35 passes for Illinois.
The Fighting Illini’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. Indiana’s defense gave up seven plays of at least 20 yards. Illinois added to the highlight reel when Kittner found Michael Dean open for a 47-yard pass with 39 seconds left in the first quarter. The big gainer was part of a seven-play drive capped off when Neil Rackers kicked a 27-yard field goal. That gave the Fighting Illini a 6-3 lead.
Illinois racked up 417 total yards. Along with Kittner’s stats in the passing game, the Fighting Illini also added 89 yards rushing on 38 attempts.
Antwaan Randle El threw for 220 yards while going 14-23 for the Hoosiers. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Randle El also ran for 70 yards on 30 attempts.
Indiana’s offense finished the game having gained 381 yards. The Hoosiers’ rushing attack contributed 161 yards on 55 carries in addition to Randle El’s passing effort.
WEEK 5: GAME OF THE WEEK – PENN STATE 30, PURDUE 27
|WEEK 5 RESULTS|
|Wisconsin 43, Iowa 8|
|Michigan 34, Indiana 15|
|Nebraska 20, Michigan State 8|
|Ohio State 26, Northwestern 12|
Penn State stuns Purdue in waning seconds, wins 30-27
In the fifth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Penn State visited Leaders Division foe Purdue. The Nittany Lions clinched a dramatic 30-27 last-second win over the Boilermakers, as Travis Forney kicked a 22-yard field goal as the game clock struck zero.
Penn State marched 61 yards in seven plays to set up the score. The winning drive took 33 seconds.
Kevin Thompson mounted the Nittany Lions’ unstoppable air attack, finishing with 302 passing yards and one touchdown on 19 completions.
Drew Brees had a big passing day despite Purdue’s loss. He hooked up with the Boilermakers receivers on 25 of 42 pass attempts and finished with 415 yards and three touchdowns.
Adrian Beasley showed good hands on defense for Purdue, picking off two Penn State passes. On a critical drive in the second quarter, he intercepted Thompson on first-and-10 and returned it 29 yards.
The Boilermakers racked up 469 total yards. Purdue complemented Brees’ passing with 54 yards rushing on 37 attempts.
The Nittany Lions racked up 429 total yards, including 302 yards passing while completing 19 of 32 attempts. Penn State also rushed 42 times for 127 yards.
WEEK 6: GAME OF THE WEEK – PENN STATE 27, MICHIGAN 20
|WEEK 6 RESULTS|
|Minnesota 35, Indiana 12|
|Nebraska 31, Illinois 6|
|Michigan State 32, Northwestern 7|
|Wisconsin 30, Purdue 13|
Fourth quarter keys Penn State to 27-20 victory over Wolverines
In the sixth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Michigan of the Legends Division visited Penn State of the Leaders Division.
The Nittany Lions took the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 27-20 victory over the Wolverines. With 9:09 to go, Kevin Thompson tossed a seven-yard touchdown to John Gilmore to give Penn State a 27-20 lead.
The Nittany Lions’ explosive offense used big plays to take down Michigan. Penn State had four plays of 20 yards or more on its way to victory. With 13:55 to go in the second quarter, Eric McCoo ran 69 yards, the Nittany Lions’ biggest gain of the game. Later in the drive, Travis Forney drilled a 22-yard field goal, which gave Penn State a 6-3 lead.
McCoo carried the offensive load for the Nittany Lions, piling up 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts.
Penn State’s Thompson went 13 of 21 through the air for a total of 163 yards. Thompson finished the game with one touchdown and no interceptions.
The Nittany Lions’ offense finished the game having gained 344 yards. In addition to Thompson’s efforts through the air, Penn State also rushed 48 times for 181 yards.
The Wolverines’ Tom Brady was good for 275 yards during the game, completing 24 of 38 passes. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. Dave Terrell was the player Brady targeted most often. He hauled in six catches for 67 yards.
Michigan racked up 432 total yards. Along with Brady’s stats in the passing game, the Wolverines also added 157 yards rushing on 44 attempts.
WEEK 7: GAME OF THE WEEK – WISCONSIN 34, ILLINOIS 16
|WEEK 7 RESULTS|
|Nebraska 21, Minnesota 8|
|Michigan State 34, Indiana 12|
|Michigan 31, Northwestern 8|
|Penn State 30, Ohio State 16|
|Purdue 35, Iowa 18|
Dayne pads his rushing stats against Illinois in 34-16 win
In the seventh week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Illinois visited Leaders Division foe Wisconsin. Ron Dayne broke out against the Fighting Illini, piling up 160 rushing yards and scoring four touchdowns to lead the Badgers to a 34-16 victory.
Kurt Kittner kept Illinois’ offense on track, throwing for 298 yards and one touchdown on 22 of 38 passing.
Wisconsin’s Brooks Bollinger passed for 75 yards, completing six of seven throws. He threw no interceptions. Bollinger was also a threat on the ground, as he rushed for 25 yards on 10 attempts.
The Badgers racked up 356 total yards. Along with Bollinger’s stats in the passing game, Wisconsin also added 281 yards rushing on 68 attempts.
The Fighting Illini’s offense finished the game having gained 398 yards. Illinois complemented Kittner’s passing with 100 yards rushing on 34 attempts.
WEEK 8: GAME OF THE WEEK – IOWA 27, NORTHWESTERN 26
|WEEK 8 RESULTS|
|Illinois 27, Ohio State 20|
|Penn State 36, Indiana 14|
|Nebraska 26, Michigan 7|
|Wisconsin 21, Minnesota 16|
|Michigan State 25, Purdue 18|
Anderson unstoppable on the ground, but Northwestern falls 27-26 to Iowa
In the eighth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Iowa visited Legends Division foe Northwestern. Damien Anderson carried the load for the Wildcats, finishing with 182 rushing yards and one touchdown, but Northwestern came out on the losing end of a 27-26 game against the Hawkeyes.
Things looked grim for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes stormed back to clinch the victory. Iowa showed its competitive spirit in digging itself out of a 12-point hole and pulling out the win.
Scott Mullen threw for 225 yards while completing 19 of 33 passes for the Hawkeyes. Mullen finished the game with three touchdowns and one interception. Mullen looked for Kevin Kasper often. He hauled in five catches for 57 yards.
Iowa’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. The Hawkeyes burned the Wildcats’ defense for five plays of more than 20 yards. With 12:06 to go in the second quarter, Ladell Betts ran 53 yards for Iowa’s biggest gain of the game, but the Hawkeyes failed to capitalize.
Northwestern’s offense finished the game having gained 488 yards, including 274 passing yards on 18 completions. The Wildcats’ rushing attack also contributed 214 yards to the total, with the tally coming on 55 carries.
The Hawkeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 356 yards. Along with Mullen’s stats in the passing game, Iowa also added 131 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
WEEK 9: GAME OF THE WEEK – MICHIGAN 23, OHIO STATE 16
|WEEK 9 RESULTS|
|Michigan State 27, Illinois 16|
|Purdue 32, Indiana 18|
|Nebraska 44, Iowa 3|
|Minnesota 33, Northwestern 6|
|Wisconsin 26, Penn State 14|
Michigan steals lead in overtime, takes home 23-16 win over Buckeyes
In the ninth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Michigan of the Legends Division visited Ohio State of the Leaders Division. The Wolverines took the lead in overtime and hung on for a 23-16 victory over the Buckeyes. Anthony Thomas’ 25-yard touchdown run gave Michigan its final lead.
The Wolverines’ Tom Brady went 19 of 30 through the air for a total of 252 yards. Brady tossed one touchdown while throwing no interceptions. Brady looked for Dave Terrell often. He hauled in five catches for 61 yards.
Michigan’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. The Wolverines had six plays of 20 yards or more on their way to victory. Michigan added to the highlight reel when Brady found Marquise Walker open for a 35-yard pass with 12:31 left in the third quarter. Later in the drive, Jeff Del Verne drilled a 28-yard field goal, which gave the Wolverines a 13-6 lead.
Ohio State’s Steve Bellisari was good for 136 yards during the game, completing 11 of 18 passes. He also threw no interceptions.
Gary Berry was perpetually in Michigan’s backfield, and he recorded two sacks. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the second quarter, when he sacked Brady on third-and-7 for a five-yard loss.
The Buckeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 396 yards. Ohio State’s rushing attack contributed 260 yards on 57 carries in addition to Bellisari’s passing effort.
The Wolverines racked up 346 total yards. Along with Brady’s stats in the passing game, Michigan also added 94 yards rushing on 42 attempts.
1999 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – NEBRASKA 20, WISCONSIN 17
Big comeback leads Nebraska past Wisconsin, 20-17
In the tenth week of our simulated 1999 Big Ten football season, Nebraska of the Legends Division visited Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. The Badgers fell victim to a furious Cornhuskers comeback, as Nebraska pulled out a 20-17 win.
Things didn’t look good for the Cornhuskers when they trailed by 14 points in the third quarter. However, Nebraska eventually battled back to take the lead with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter when Josh Brown kicked a 31-yard field goal for the go-ahead score.
The Cornhuskers employed a tough, smash-mouth brand of football and exploited the chinks in Wisconsin’s defensive armor. Nebraska used its running game to great effect, as it picked up 336 yards on the ground. Correll Buckhalter led the Cornhuskers’ ground attack with 74 yards on 13 attempts.
Nebraska’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. The Cornhuskers burned the Badgers’ defense for six plays of more than 20 yards. With 13:52 to go in the fourth quarter, Buckhalter ran 48 yards to paydirt, Nebraska’s longest play on the day. Buckhalter’s long touchdown cut Wisconsin’s lead to 17-10.
Brooks Bollinger threw for 104 yards while completing eight of 18 passes for the Badgers. Bollinger tossed one touchdown while throwing no interceptions.
Wisconsin racked up 241 total yards. Along with Bollinger’s stats in the passing game, the Badgers also added 137 yards rushing on 52 attempts.