2001 Big Ten Football Season Simulation

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 2001 season. Click here for the other seasons.

STANDINGS W L
NEBRASKA 8 0
MICHIGAN STATE 7 1
IOWA 5 3
MICHIGAN 4 4
MINNESOTA 2 6
NORTHWESTERN 0 8
STANDINGS W L
ILLINOIS 8 0
OHIO STATE 5 3
WISCONSIN 4 4
INDIANA 3 5
PURDUE 2 6
PENN STATE 0 8

2001 Big Ten Championship:

Nebraska 23, Ohio State 17

WEEK 1: GAME OF THE WEEK -  MICHIGAN STATE 31, IOWA 28

 WEEK 1 RESULTS
Illinois 36, Penn State 15
Michigan 26, Northwestern 7
Ohio State 32, Minnesota 22
Wisconsin 21, Purdue 15

Michigan State pulls out last second victory over Iowa

In the first week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Iowa visited Legends Division foe Michigan State. The game between the Spartans and the Hawkeyes came down to the final play, culminating when Dave Rayner kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired to clinch a 31-28 victory.

The winning play came after Michigan State drove 52 yards in 54 seconds.

Jeff Smoker mounted the Spartans’ unstoppable air attack, finishing with 443 passing yards and three touchdowns on 25 completions.

Michigan State almost threw away the game, as it committed five turnovers. However, the Spartans was able to pull out the victory in the end, helped in part by 567 total yards on offense.

Bob Sanders and Grant Steen were each solid on the defensive side of the ball. Sanders led the unit by picking off three Michigan State passes. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the first quarter, when he intercepted Smoker on second-and-2 and returned it 87 yards.

Iowa’s Kyle McCann was good for 234 yards during the game, completing 17 of 33 passes. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Hawkeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 359 yards. Iowa’s rushing attack contributed 125 yards on 42 carries in addition to McCann’s passing effort.

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WEEK 2: GAME OF THE WEEK -  OHIO STATE 20, WISCONSIN 16

 WEEK 2 RESULTS
Nebraska 27, Indiana 10
Michigan 28, Minnesota 17
Iowa 32, Northwestern 10
Michigan State 37, Penn State 18

Buckeyes go on top in fifth, finish off Wisconsin 20-16

In the second week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Ohio State visited Leaders Division foe Wisconsin. The Buckeyes took the lead in overtime and hung on for a 20-16 victory over the Badgers. Steve Bellisari’s 16-yard touchdown pass gave Ohio State its final lead.

Bellisari and Chris Vance had a passing connection going, as Vance racked up 111 yards and one touchdown on six catches en route to a win for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s passing game looked unstoppable at times against Wisconsin’s defense. The Buckeyes’ air attack was uncontainable, as they torched the Badgers for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Bellisari completed 16 of 28 passes for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ explosive offense used big plays to take down Wisconsin. Ohio State had five plays of 20 yards or more on its way to victory. With 10:46 to go in the third quarter, Bellisari found Michael Jenkins open for a 29-yard pass, the Buckeyes’ biggest gain of the game. Later in the drive, Mike Nugent made a 44-yard field goal, which gave Ohio State a 10-7 lead.

Brooks Bollinger threw for 175 yards while going 14-29 for the Badgers. He threw one touchdown and no interceptions. Bollinger also ran for 44 yards on 13 attempts. Bollinger looked for Lee Evans often. He caught six passes for 80 yards and one touchdown.

Wisconsin racked up 339 total yards. Along with Bollinger’s stats in the passing game, the Badgers also added 164 yards rushing on 51 attempts.

The Buckeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 412 yards. In addition to Bellisari’s efforts through the air, Ohio State also rushed 50 times for 139 yards.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 3: GAME OF THE WEEK -  MINNESOTA 20, PURDUE 17

 WEEK 3 RESULTS
Iowa 34, Penn State 16
Nebraska 20, Michigan 9
Indiana 23, Northwestern 13
Illinois 29, Wisconsin 20

Big comeback sends Minnesota past Purdue, 20-17

In the third week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Purdue of the Leaders Division visited Minnesota of the Legends Division. The Golden Gophers fell behind, but stormed back to beat the Boilermakers 20-17.

Things didn’t look good for Minnesota when it trailed by 11 points in the fourth quarter. However, the Golden Gophers eventually battled back to take the lead with 8:00 remaining in the fourth quarter when Thomas Tapeh turned a handoff into a one-yard touchdown.

Minnesota’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. The Golden Gophers burned Purdue’s defense for four plays of more than 20 yards. Minnesota added to the highlight reel when Asad Abdul-Khaliq found Tony Patterson open for a 28-yard pass with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter. Despite the highlight, the Golden Gophers failed to score on that drive, which stalled at the Purdue 22-yard line.

Tellis Redmon carried the offensive load for Minnesota, piling up 95 rushing yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts.

Mike Lehan showed good hands on defense for the Golden Gophers, picking off two Purdue passes. On a critical drive in the fourth quarter, he intercepted Kyle Orton on third-and-1.

Minnesota’s offense finished the game having gained 427 yards, including 281 passing yards on 23 completions. The Golden Gophers’ rushing attack also contributed 146 yards to the total, with the tally coming on 42 carries.

The Boilermakers’ Orton was good for 215 yards during the game, completing 17 of 38 passes. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Purdue racked up 378 total yards. The Boilermakers’ rushing attack contributed 163 yards on 39 carries in addition to Orton’s passing effort.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 4: GAME OF THE WEEK -  MICHIGAN STATE 26, MICHIGAN 24

 WEEK 4 RESULTS
Wisconsin 25, Indiana 21
Nebraska 35, Minnesota 12
Illinois 25, Ohio State 22
Purdue 18, Northwestern 10

Michigan State stuns Michigan in waning seconds, wins 26-24

In the fourth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Michigan State visited Legends Division foe Michigan. The Spartans clinched a dramatic 26-24 last-second win over the Wolverines, as Dave Rayner kicked a 40-yard field goal as the game clock struck zero.

Michigan State marched 63 yards in eight plays to set up the score. The winning drive took 1:41.

Jeff Smoker and Charles Rogers had a passing connection going, as Rogers racked up 155 yards and one touchdown on six catches en route to a win for the Spartans.

Michigan State’s passing game looked flawless, despite the efforts of Michigan’s secondary. The Spartans’ air attack was uncontainable, as they torched the Wolverines for 377 yards and one touchdown. Smoker completed 20 of 30 passes for Michigan State.

Home run plays keyed the Spartans’ scoring attack. Michigan State had nine plays of 20 yards or more on its way to victory. With 6:10 to go in the first quarter, Smoker found B.J. Lovett open for a 39-yard pass for the Spartans’ biggest gain of the game. Unfortunately for Michigan State, the big play went to waste, as that drive ended on Michigan’s 17-yard line without a score.

John Navarre threw for 225 yards while completing 19 of 27 passes for the Wolverines. Navarre finished the game with two touchdowns and one interception. Marquise Walker was the player Navarre targeted most often. He hauled in seven catches for 75 yards.

Roy Manning was perpetually in the Spartans’ backfield, and he recorded two sacks. He came up big during a crucial moment in the second quarter, when he sacked Smoker on first-and-10 for a five-yard loss.

Michigan’s offense finished the game having gained 323 yards. The Wolverines complemented Navarre’s passing with 98 yards rushing on 39 attempts.

Lorenzo Guess led Michigan State’s defensive assault, as he finished with one interception and one sack. He sacked Navarre for a five-yard loss on second-and-6 during a key drive in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans racked up 476 total yards. In addition to Smoker’s efforts through the air, Michigan State also rushed 49 times for 99 yards.

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WEEK 5: GAME OF THE WEEK -  ILLINOIS 23, IOWA 21

 WEEK 5 RESULTS
Minnesota 28, Northwestern 18
Nebraska 27, Michigan State 14
Ohio State 23, Purdue 12
Indiana 26, Penn State 20

Illinois pulls out last second victory over Iowa

In the fifth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Iowa of the Legends Division visited Illinois of the Leaders Division. The game between the Fighting Illini and the Hawkeyes came down to the final play, culminating when Peter Christofilakos drilled a 41-yard field goal as time expired to clinch a 23-21 victory.

The winning play came after Illinois drove 69 yards in 1:25.

Kurt Kittner and Brandon Lloyd had a passing connection going, as Lloyd racked up 81 yards and two touchdowns on five catches en route to a win for the Fighting Illini.

Illinois’ explosive offense used big plays to take down Iowa. The Fighting Illini burned the Hawkeyes’ defense for six plays of more than 20 yards. Illinois added to the highlight reel when Kittner found Brian Hodges open for a 44-yard pass with 9:38 left in the third quarter. The big gainer was part of a 10-play drive capped off when Christofilakos kicked a 38-yard field goal. That gave the Fighting Illini a 20-14 lead.

Illinois’ Kittner went 26 of 47 through the air for a total of 390 yards. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Fighting Illini’s offense finished the game having gained 430 yards. Along with Kittner’s stats in the passing game, Illinois also added 40 yards rushing on 35 attempts.

Brad Banks threw for 54 yards while completing five of six passes for Iowa. Banks finished the game with one touchdown and no interceptions. Kahlil Hill was the player Banks targeted most often. He hauled in five catches for 51 yards.

Aaron Kampman was perpetually in the Fighting Illini’s backfield, and he recorded two sacks. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the fourth quarter, when he sacked Kittner on first-and-10 for a seven-yard loss.

The Hawkeyes racked up 397 total yards, including 302 yards passing while completing 21 of 39 attempts. Iowa also rushed 40 times for 95 yards.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 6: GAME OF THE WEEK -  PURDUE 20, PENN STATE 17

 WEEK 6 RESULTS
Illinois 30, Indiana 17
Iowa 19, Michigan 18
Michigan State 31, Wisconsin 22
Nebraska 23, Ohio State 11

Big comeback helps Boilermakers past Nittany Lions, 20-17

In the sixth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Penn State visited Leaders Division foe Purdue. The Boilermakers fell behind, but stormed back to beat the Nittany Lions 20-17 in overtime.

Things didn’t look good for Purdue when it trailed by 10 points in the third quarter. However, the Boilermakers eventually battled back to take the lead when Travis Dorsch kicked a 27-yard field goal in overtime.
Purdue’s Kyle Orton went 21 of 40 through the air for a total of 297 yards. Orton finished the game with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Orton looked for Taylor Stubblefield often. He hauled in six catches for 87 yards.

The Boilermakers’ explosive offense used big plays to take down Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ defense gave up six plays of at least 20 yards. With 14:32 to go in the second quarter, Orton found John Standeford open for a 31-yard pass for Purdue’s biggest gain of the game. But the Boilermakers failed to capitalize, as that drive was stopped short at Penn State’s 42-yard line.

Purdue’s offense finished the game having gained 452 yards. The Boilermakers’ rushing attack contributed 155 yards on 46 carries in addition to Orton’s passing effort.

Matt Senneca threw for 11 yards while completing one of seven passes for the Nittany Lions. He also threw no interceptions. Senneca’s favorite target on the day was Tony Johnson. He hauled in six catches for 87 yards.

Penn State’s offense finished the game having gained 390 yards, including 298 passing yards on 20 completions. The Nittany Lions’ rushing attack also contributed 92 yards to the total, with the tally coming on 37 carries.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 7: GAME OF THE WEEK -  NEBRASKA 31, NORTHWESTERN 23

 WEEK 7 RESULTS
Iowa 25, Purdue 13
Michigan State 30, Indiana 20
Illinois 20, Michigan 18
Ohio State 31, Penn State 15
Wisconsin 29, Minnesota 27

Nebraska can’t stop Anderson but Northwestern still falls 31-23

In the seventh week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Nebraska visited Legends Division foe Northwestern. Damien Anderson caught three passes for 100 yards, but the Wildcats lost to the Cornhuskers 31-23.

Nebraska didn’t capture the lead until the fourth quarter. With 11:16 to go, Eric Crouch threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to John Klem to give the Cornhuskers a 24-23 lead.

Nebraska pounded the ball on the ground against Northwestern, finishing with 296 total rushing yards. The combo of Judd Davies and Dahrran Diedrick had 77 and 130 yards respectively.

The Cornhuskers’ offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. Nebraska had five plays of 20 yards or more on its way to victory. With 48 seconds to go in the first quarter, Diedrick ran 40 yards, the Cornhuskers’ biggest gain of the game. The big gainer was part of a five-play drive capped off when Thunder Collins ran 17 yards to paydirt. That gave Nebraska a 14-6 lead.

The Wildcats’ Zak Kustok passed for 227 yards, completing 14 of 30 throws. He tossed one touchdown and gave up no interceptions. Kustok was also a threat on the ground, as he rushed for 51 yards on 26 attempts.

Northwestern racked up 437 total yards. The Wildcats’ rushing attack contributed 210 yards on 53 carries in addition to Kustok’s passing effort.

Crouch threw for 67 yards while going 4-6 for the Cornhuskers. He tossed one touchdown and gave up no interceptions. Crouch also ran for 33 yards on 15 attempts.

Dion Booker was perpetually in Northwestern’s backfield, and he recorded two sacks. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the fourth quarter, when he sacked Kustok on first-and-10 for a five-yard loss.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 8: GAME OF THE WEEK -  ILLINOIS 41, PURDUE 23

 WEEK 8 RESULTS
Iowa 34, Minnesota 22
Ohio State 27, Indiana 18
Michigan State 32, Northwestern 13
Nebraska 36, Penn State 7
Michigan 24, Wisconsin 15

Kittner’s passing attack proves too much for Purdue in Illinois’ 41-23 victory

In the eighth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Purdue visited Leaders Division foe Illinois. Kurt Kittner threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Fighting Illini to a 41-23 victory over the Boilermakers.

Illinois didn’t capture the lead until the fourth quarter. With 14:20 to go, Kittner hit Anthony McClellan in the endzone from five yards out to give the Fighting Illini a 27-20 lead.

Illinois’ passing game looked unstoppable at times against Purdue’s defense. The Fighting Illini’s air attack was uncontainable, as they torched the Boilermakers for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Kittner completed 20 of 32 passes for Illinois.

The Fighting Illini’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. Illinois burned Purdue’s defense for eight plays of more than 20 yards. With 11:40 to go in the fourth quarter, Rocky Harvey pounded in a 47-yard touchdown run, the Fighting Illini’s longest play on the day. The touchdown gave Illinois a 34-20 lead.

Bobby Jackson was perpetually in the Boilermakers’ backfield, and he recorded two sacks. He sacked Kyle Orton for a five-yard loss on second-and-11 during a key drive in the third quarter.

The Fighting Illini racked up 470 total yards. Illinois’ rushing attack contributed 191 yards on 41 carries in addition to Kittner’s passing effort.

Purdue’s Orton was good for 247 yards during the game, completing 15 of 38 passes. Orton tossed one touchdown while throwing one interception. Taylor Stubblefield was the player Orton targeted most often. He hauled in six catches for 74 yards.

The Boilermakers’ offense finished the game having gained 379 yards. In addition to Orton’s efforts through the air, Purdue also rushed 46 times for 132 yards.

READ THE BOX SCOREPLAY GRIDIRON DYNASTY

WEEK 9: GAME OF THE WEEK -  MICHIGAN 17, OHIO STATE 14

 WEEK 9 RESULTS
Nebraska 23, Iowa 13
Michigan State 36, Minnesota 24
Illinois 32, Northwestern 11
Wisconsin 30, Penn State 19
Indiana 18, Purdue 17

Michigan defeats Ohio State in overtime, 17-14

In the ninth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Michigan of the Legends Division visited Ohio State of the Leaders Division.  The Wolverines captured the lead in the second overtime and defeated the Buckeyes 17-14.

After Michigan scored on Hayden Epstein’s 44-yard field goal to open the second overtime, Ohio State failed to score, getting stopped at the 24 on fourth-and-9.

Jonathan Wells was a bright spot in defeat for the Buckeyes, as he rushed for 183 yards on 30 carries and scored one touchdown.

John Navarre and Marquise Walker had a passing connection going, as Walker racked up 111 yards and one touchdown on 10 catches en route to a win for the Wolverines.

Ohio State’s Steve Bellisari went 10 of 20 through the air for a total of 114 yards. He also threw no interceptions.

The Buckeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 361 yards. Along with Bellisari’s stats in the passing game, Ohio State also added 247 yards rushing on 58 attempts.

Michigan’s Navarre passed for 273 yards, completing 24 of 51 throws. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Navarre was also a threat on the ground, as he rushed for 29 yards on nine attempts.

The Wolverines racked up 369 total yards. Michigan’s rushing attack contributed 96 yards on 40 carries in addition to Navarre’s passing effort.

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2001 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – NEBRASKA 23, OHIO STATE 17

Nebraska captures lead in fourth quarter in 23-17 victory over Ohio State

In the tenth week of our simulated 2001 Big Ten football season, Nebraska of the Legends Division visited Ohio State of the Leaders Division. The Cornhuskers took the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 23-17 victory over the Buckeyes.

With 5:57 to go, Thunder Collins turned a handoff into a nine-yard touchdown to give Nebraska a 20-17 lead.

Dahrran Diedrick carried the offensive load for the Cornhuskers, piling up 154 rushing yards and one touchdown on 32 attempts.

Ohio State’s Chris Vance was productive despite the team loss. He scored two touchdowns and snagged three passes, good for 112 receiving yards.

Steve Bellisari threw for 208 yards while completing 11 of 19 passes for the Buckeyes. Bellisari finished the game with two touchdowns and one interception.

Ohio State racked up 284 total yards. The Buckeyes complemented Bellisari’s passing with 76 yards rushing on 46 attempts.

Mark Vedral and Philip Bland teamed up to lead Nebraska’s defense. Vedral was all over the action, terrorizing Ohio State’s line for three sacks. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the first quarter, when he sacked Bellisari on second-and-9 for a six-yard loss.

The Cornhuskers’ offense finished the game having gained 311 yards. Along with Eric Crouch’s stats in the passing game, Nebraska also added 285 yards rushing on 73 attempts.

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