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 2009 season. Click here for the other seasons.
2009 Big Ten Championship:
WEEK 1: GAME OF THE WEEK - WISCONSIN 24, NEBRASKA 17
|WEEK 1 RESULTS|
|Michigan 23, Minnesota 22|
|Iowa 26, Northwestern 10|
|Ohio State 25, Purdue 10|
|Penn State 35, Indiana 11|
Badgers win 24-17 after topping Nebraska in fourth quarter
In the first week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Nebraska of the Legends Division visited Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. The Badgers took the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 24-17 victory over the Cornhuskers.
With 1:10 to go, Scott Tolzien hit Lance Kendricks in the endzone from 13 yards out to give Wisconsin a 24-17 lead.
The Badgers’ Tolzien went 14 of 32 through the air for a total of 228 yards. Tolzien tossed two touchdowns while throwing one interception.
Wisconsin’s offense dominated, ripping off huge chunks of yardage. Nebraska’s defense gave up six plays of at least 20 yards. With 14:26 to go in the first quarter, Tolzien threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Nick Toon, the Badgers’ longest play on the day. The long touchdown gave Wisconsin a 7-0 lead.
The Badgers racked up the yards against the Cornhuskers on their way to victory. Wisconsin gained 228 yards passing and 181 yards rushing as it dominated Nebraska’s defense.
Chris Borland was perpetually in the Cornhuskers’ backfield, and he recorded two sacks. He came up big during a crucial moment in the first quarter, when he sacked Zac Lee on second-and-8 for a six-yard loss.
Nebraska’s Lee was good for 233 yards during the game, completing 20 of 40 passes. Lee tossed one touchdown while throwing four interceptions. Lee looked for Curenski Gilleylen often. He caught five passes for 86 yards and one touchdown.
The Cornhuskers’ offense finished the game having gained 346 yards. In addition to Lee’s efforts through the air, Nebraska also rushed 40 times for 113 yards.
WEEK 2: GAME OF THE WEEK - NORTHWESTERN 24, MICHIGAN 20
|WEEK 2 RESULTS|
|Ohio State 29, Indiana 8|
|Michigan State 31, Illinois 22|
|Nebraska 27, Minnesota 13|
|Penn State 29, Purdue 14|
Wildcats go on top in third, finish off Michigan 24-20
In the second week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Northwestern visited Legends Division foe Michigan. The Wildcats took the lead in the third quarter and hung on for a 24-20 victory over the Wolverines.
With 6:40 to go in the quarter, Jordan Mabin intercepted Tate Forcier’s pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to give Northwestern a 24-20 lead.
Mike Kafka picked apart Michigan’s secondary, completing 12 of 18 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown on the day.
Forcier kept the Wolverines’ offense on track, throwing for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 16 of 22 passing.
Michigan’s offense finished the game having gained 502 yards. The Wolverines complemented Forcier’s passing with 309 yards rushing on 60 attempts.
The Wildcats racked up 226 total yards. Northwestern’s rushing attack contributed 61 yards on 39 carries in addition to Kafka’s passing effort.
WEEK 3: GAME OF THE WEEK - NORTHWESTERN 20, MINNESOTA 10
|WEEK 3 RESULTS|
|Penn State 30, Illinois 12|
|Iowa 32, Indiana 10|
|Michigan State 34, Michigan 23|
|Wisconsin 28, Purdue 19|
Northwestern’s passing game too much for Minnesota in 20-10 win
In the third week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Northwestern visited Legends Division foe Minnesota. The Wildcats had a great passing day, throwing for 231 yards in a 20-10 victory over the Golden Gophers.
At one point, Minnesota trailed by 14 points, and while the Golden Gophers made a run in the game’s late stages, they couldn’t complete the comeback against Northwestern.
Mike Kafka picked apart Minnesota’s secondary, completing 20 of 25 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
The Golden Gophers’ Adam Weber went 15 of 36 through the air for a total of 230 yards. Weber finished the game with one touchdown and four interceptions. Eric Decker was the player Weber targeted most often. He hauled in five catches for 65 yards.
Minnesota racked up 287 total yards. The Golden Gophers’ rushing attack contributed 57 yards on 33 carries in addition to Weber’s passing effort.
Brian Peters led the Wildcats’ defensive assault, as he finished with one interception and one sack. On a critical drive in the first quarter, he intercepted Weber on second-and-10 and returned it 25 yards.
Northwestern’s offense finished the game having gained 332 yards. Along with Kafka’s stats in the passing game, the Wildcats also added 101 yards rushing on 56 attempts.
WEEK 4: GAME OF THE WEEK - ILLINOIS 42, INDIANA 34 (OT)
|WEEK 4 RESULTS|
|Iowa 26, Purdue 12|
|Nebraska 30, Michigan 13|
|Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 16|
|Ohio State 26, Michigan State 17|
Illinois defeats Indiana in overtime 42-34
In the fourth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Indiana visited Leaders Division foe Illinois. The Fighting Illini needed four overtimes to knock off the Hoosiers, outlasting Indiana 42-34.
After Illinois scored on Juice Williams’ seven-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth overtime, the Hoosiers failed to score, getting stopped at the 19 on fourth-and-4.
Mikel LeShoure ran all over Indiana to lead the Fighting Illini to the win. He carried the ball 19 times for 192 yards and scored one touchdown.
Illinois and the Hoosiers put on an entertaining offensive show. The teams went wild on the attacking side of the ball, racking up 1053 total yards combined.
The Fighting Illini operated their air game to perfection in dismantling Indiana’s defense. Illinois’ air attack was uncontainable, as it torched the Hoosiers for 239 yards and four touchdowns. Williams completed 20 of 30 passes for the Fighting Illini.
Illinois’ offense finished the game having gained 606 yards. The Fighting Illini’s rushing attack contributed 367 yards on 69 carries in addition to Williams’ passing effort.
Indiana’s Ben Chappell was good for 238 yards during the game, completing 22 of 37 passes. Chappell tossed two touchdowns while throwing no interceptions. Damarlo Belcher was the player Chappell targeted most often. He caught five passes for 41 yards and one touchdown.
The Hoosiers racked up 447 total yards. Along with Chappell’s stats in the passing game, Indiana also added 209 yards rushing on 45 attempts.
WEEK 5: GAME OF THE WEEK - NEBRASKA 27, MICHIGAN STATE 22
|WEEK 5 RESULTS|
|Iowa 29, Michigan 12|
|Ohio State 24, Illinois 9|
|Penn State 28, Northwestern 11|
|Wisconsin 30, Minnesota 15|
Lee and Gilleylen display chemistry in Nebraska’s 27-22 victory over Michigan State
In the fifth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Nebraska visited Legends Division foe Michigan State. Zac Lee found Curenski Gilleylen frequently, as both helped the Cornhuskers notch a 27-22 victory over the Spartans.
Lee hit Gilleylen for 67 yards on three catches during the win.
Michigan State nearly made a 12-point deficit evaporate, but Nebraska’s defense held strong against a late the Spartans comeback to clinch the victory.
Home run plays keyed the Cornhuskers’ scoring attack. Michigan State’s defense gave up seven plays of at least 20 yards. Nebraska added to the highlight reel when Roy Helu ran 37 yards with 5:28 left in the third quarter. Later in the drive, Alex Henery kicked a 43-yard field goal, which gave the Cornhuskers a 24-12 lead.
Nebraska was able to secure the win thanks to a well-rounded offense that was firing on all cylinders. The offense for the Cornhuskers hummed along to the tune of 208 passing yards and 211 rushing yards.
Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins went 21 of 40 through the air for a total of 269 yards. Cousins finished the game with one touchdown and no interceptions. Cousins’ favorite target on the day was Blair White. He hauled in five catches for 42 yards.
Michigan State’s offense finished the game having gained 374 yards, including 280 passing yards on 22 completions. The Spartans’ rushing attack also contributed 94 yards to the total, with the tally coming on 29 carries.
Nebraska’s Lee was good for 208 yards during the game, completing 15 of 26 passes. Lee finished the game with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
WEEK 6: GAME OF THE WEEK - PENN STATE 14, OHIO STATE 8
|WEEK 6 RESULTS|
|Iowa 29, Minnesota 10|
|Michigan State 34, Indiana 22|
|Nebraska 25, Purdue 15|
|Wisconsin 29, Illinois 16|
Nittany Lions win 14-8 after topping Ohio State in fourth quarter
In the sixth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Ohio State visited Leaders Division foe Penn State. The Nittany Lions took the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 14-8 victory over the Buckeyes.
With 5:16 to go, Evan Royster pounded in a 63-yard touchdown run to give Penn State a 9-8 lead.
Royster carried the offensive load for the Nittany Lions, piling up 110 rushing yards and one touchdown on 21 attempts.
Daniel Herron did his best to carry Ohio State’s offense; turning 22 carries into 89 rushing yards.
Penn State’s Daryll Clark was good for 176 yards during the game, completing 13 of 22 passes. He also threw one interception.
The Nittany Lions’ offense finished the game having gained 341 yards. Penn State complemented Clark’s passing with 165 yards rushing on 48 attempts.
Terrelle Pryor threw for 67 yards while going 6-12 for the Buckeyes. He threw no interceptions. Pryor also ran for 49 yards on 16 attempts.
Ohio State racked up 272 total yards. Along with Pryor’s stats in the passing game, the Buckeyes also added 205 yards rushing on 59 attempts.
WEEK 7: GAME OF THE WEEK - IOWA 17, OHIO STATE 7
|WEEK 7 RESULTS|
|Wisconsin 33, Indiana 16|
|Michigan State 32, Minnesota 20|
|Penn State 23, Nebraska 18|
|Northwestern 20, Illinois 17|
|Purdue 27, Michigan 19|
Pryor’s big passing numbers not enough as Ohio State falls 17-7 to Iowa
In the seventh week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Ohio State of the Leaders Division visited Iowa of the Legends Division. Terrelle Pryor put on an aerial show for the Buckeyes, finishing with 223 passing yards and one touchdown, but Ohio State fell 17-7 to the Hawkeyes.
Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi went 21 of 41 through the air for a total of 310 yards. He also threw four interceptions.
The Buckeyes’ defense forced the issue, causing five turnovers by the Hawkeyes’ offense. Iowa’s offense gained 397 total yards though, and was able to score enough for the win.
A.J. Edds led the Hawkeyes’ defensive assault, as he finished with two interceptions and one sack. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the first quarter, when he intercepted Pryor on first-and-10 and returned it 34 yards.
Ohio State racked up 354 total yards. The Buckeyes complemented Pryor’s passing with 131 yards rushing on 45 attempts.
WEEK 8: GAME OF THE WEEK - PURDUE 38, ILLINOIS 35
|WEEK 8 RESULTS|
|Michigan 26, Indiana 23|
|Penn State 31, Minnesota 11|
|Iowa 29, Michigan State 18|
|Nebraska 23, Northwestern 13|
|Wisconsin 19, Ohio State 18|
Big comeback sends Purdue past Illinois, 38-35
In the eighth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Purdue visited Leaders Division foe Illinois. The Fighting Illini fell victim to a furious Boilermakers comeback, as the Boilermakers pulled out a 38-35 win.
Things didn’t look good for Purdue when it trailed by 12 points in the fourth quarter. However, the Boilermakers eventually battled back to take the lead with 1:31 remaining in the fourth quarter when Joey Elliott hit Keith Smith in the endzone from six yards out.
Elliott mounted Purdue’s unstoppable air attack, finishing with 230 passing yards and three touchdowns on 20 completions.
Despite taking the loss, Juice Williams gave Illinois a fighting chance thanks to a big game through the air. He hooked up with the Fighting Illini receivers on 12 of 21 pass attempts and finished with 179 yards and three touchdowns.
Defense was an afterthought, as both teams lit up the scoreboard. The Boilermakers and Illinois rode their powerful offenses to a combined 905 total yards.
The Fighting Illini racked up 469 total yards. Illinois complemented Williams’ passing with 290 yards rushing on 50 attempts.
Josh McKinley was perpetually in the Fighting Illini’s backfield, and he recorded two sacks. He came up big during a crucial moment in the second quarter, when he sacked Williams on first-and-10 for an eight-yard loss.
Purdue’s offense finished the game having gained 436 yards. Along with Elliott’s stats in the passing game, the Boilermakers also added 206 yards rushing on 50 attempts.
WEEK 9: GAME OF THE WEEK - OHIO STATE 27, MICHIGAN 17
|WEEK 9 RESULTS|
|Illinois 22, Minnesota 20|
|Iowa 21, Nebraska 15|
|Michigan State 27, Northwestern 21|
|Penn State 25, Wisconsin 20|
|Purdue 27, Indiana 17|
Ohio State’s Saine has big day rushing against Wolverines in 27-17 victory
In the ninth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Michigan of the Legends Division visited Ohio State of the Leaders Division. Brandon Saine broke out against the Wolverines, piling up 154 rushing yards and scoring three touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to a 27-17 victory.
Home run plays keyed Ohio State’s scoring attack. The Buckeyes had five plays of 20 yards or more on their way to victory. With 13:53 to go in the first quarter, Saine pounded in a 65-yard touchdown run, Ohio State’s longest play on the day. The score gave the Buckeyes a 6-0 lead.
Terrelle Pryor threw for 148 yards while going 12-18 for Ohio State. He tossed one touchdown and gave up no interceptions. Pryor also ran for 57 yards on 17 attempts.
The Buckeyes racked up 469 total yards. In addition to Pryor’s efforts through the air, Ohio State also rushed 60 times for 321 yards.
Michigan’s Tate Forcier passed for 173 yards, completing 16 of 28 throws. He threw no interceptions. Forcier was also a threat on the ground, as he rushed for 21 yards on 12 attempts.
The Wolverines’ offense finished the game having gained 315 yards. Michigan complemented Forcier’s passing with 142 yards rushing on 41 attempts.
2009 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – PENN STATE 21, IOWA 19
Royster and Clark team up to carry Penn State past Iowa 21-19
In the tenth week of our simulated 2009 Big Ten football season, Iowa of the Legends Division visited Penn State of the Leaders Division. The Nittany Lions’ Evan Royster and Daryll Clark led the way in a 21-19 win over the Hawkeyes.
Clark racked up 248 yards through the air and Royster rumbled for 125 yards on the ground.
Penn State’s passing game looked flawless, despite the efforts of Iowa’s secondary. The Nittany Lions’ air attack was uncontainable, as they torched the Hawkeyes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Clark completed 24 of 33 passes for Penn State.
Iowa nearly made an 18-point deficit evaporate, but the Nittany Lions’ defense held strong against a late the Hawkeyes comeback to clinch the victory.
Penn State racked up 398 total yards. In addition to Clark’s efforts through the air, the Nittany Lions also rushed 50 times for 150 yards.
Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi was good for 214 yards during the game, completing 12 of 17 passes. Stanzi tossed two touchdowns while throwing two interceptions.
The Hawkeyes’ offense finished the game having gained 313 yards. Iowa complemented Stanzi’s passing with 99 yards rushing on 45 attempts.