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The Big Ten Championship Game History

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.

Wisconsin has the most appearances in the game with six (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019), while Ohio State has the most wins with four (2014, 2017, 2018, 2019).

Team selection

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. 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. 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.


Year Leaders Division Legends Division Site Attendance Viewers
TV Rating MVP
2011 15 Wisconsin Badgers 42 11 Michigan State Spartans 39 Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, IN
64,152 7.8 4.6 QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
2012 Wisconsin Badgers[n 1] 70 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers 31 41,260 4.9 3.0 RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin
2013 2 Ohio State Buckeyes 24 10 Michigan State Spartans 34 66,002 13.9 7.9 QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
East Division West Division
2014 5 Ohio State Buckeyes 59 13 Wisconsin Badgers 0 Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, IN
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 QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Results by team

Appearances School Wins Losses Pct. Year(s) Won Year(s) Lost
6 Wisconsin 2 4 .333 2011, 2012 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
5 Ohio State 4 1 .800 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 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

IllinoisIndianaMarylandMichiganMinnesotaPurdue, and Rutgers have yet to make an appearance in a Big Ten Football Championship Game.


Game Records


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

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

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 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

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 or more tied teams will be compared against each other.
  2. The records of the three or more tied teams will be compared within their division.
  3. 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).
  4. The records of the three or more 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.


  1. ^ 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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