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B1G In The Big Leagues: AFC & NFC Championship Preview + Open Thread

With the (FBS) college season over, there’s only a few football games left to tide you over to next fall

NFL: AUG 16 Preseason - Bills at Panthers
Surprise! Iowa has offensive linemen and defensive backs in these games
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been a while for this series, but with the Big Ten season receding into the rearview mirror and NFL draft decisions finalizing, we’re just three NFL games away from confronting yet another offseason. The conference #footprint and adjacent areas are well-represented, but what about our college teams? To whom should we look if we want to see B1G alumni grabbing those much-coveted rings?

Tampa Bay @ Green Bay, 3:05 EST, FOX

Here, we have a matchup of perhaps the most different Bays in the country. The Packers got here after a first-round bye and a cruise control win over the Rams; the Buccaneers endured the brutal road of 6-10 Washington and a Saints team determined to start the revenant that used to be Drew Brees until he shambles away of his own accord.

The Packers roster a ton of Big Ten offensive linemen - starting center Corey Linsley (OSU), guard Jon Runyan Jr. (Michigan), and tackle Rick Wagner (Wisconsin), plus reserves Simon Stepaniak (Indiana) and Ben Braden (Michigan). Former Michigan wideout Devin Funchess rounds out the B1G contingent on offense.

There’s a heavy presence defensively, too - DE Dean Lowry (Northwestern), DE Tyler Lancaster (Northwestern), DE Wilington Previlon (Rutgers), LB Rashan Gary (Michigan), LB Christian Kirksey (Iowa), LB Kamal Martin (Minnesota), CB Josh Jackson (Iowa), S Adrian Amos, and S Darnell Savage.

Bruce Arians’ squad, meanwhile, has the marquee graduate in former Michigan backup Tom Brady. He’s joined by QB Drew Stanton (Michigan State), WR Chris Godwin (Penn State), WR Tyler Johnson (Minnesota), C A.Q. Shipley (Penn State - although he took a medical retirement midseason, having been a member of the team, he would get a ring if the Bucs win it all), OT Donovan Smith (Penn State), and OT Tristan Wirfs (Iowa).

The Bucs’ defense also has plenty of B1G representation. DE William Gholston (Michigan State), DT Khalil Davis (Nebraska), DT Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska), LB Jack Cichy (Wisconsin), LB Lavonte David (Nebraska), LB Anthony Nelson (Iowa), S Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota), and P Matt Wile (Michigan).

That’s a dead-even count of fifteen former B1G players on each team. Root your conscience on this one.

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs, 6:40 EST, CBS

The defending champs have a decent collection of B1G products as well: QB Chad Henne (Michigan), RB Le’Veon Bell (MSU), G Nick Allegretti (Illinois), G Patrick Omameh (Michigan), and G Stefan Wisniewski (Penn State) on offense, plus DE Mike Danna (Michigan), DE Taco Charlton (Michigan), DE Frank Clark (Michigan), LB Damien Wilson (Minnesota), LB Anthony Hitchens (Iowa), and LB Ben Niemann (Iowa). Eleven in total.

The Bills, however, are coming up a bit light. WR Stefon Diggs (Maryland), TE Tyler Kroft (Rutgers), G Ike Boettger (Iowa) and OT Ryan Bates (Penn State), are it on offense. DE AJ Epenesa (Iowa), DT Quinton Jefferson (Maryland), LB Darron Lee (Ohio State), LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Illinois) and S Micah Hyde (Iowa) make up the defensive contingent, for a total of nine.

So the Chiefs have the numbers edge...but that’s a lot of Wolverines, so if you’re not partial to Michigan, you know who to root against. Huh. With so many players going deep in the playoffs, Michigan must have a fistful of conference championships this century, huh?

Here’s your tally by school:

Illinois: 2

Indiana: 1

Iowa: 9

Maryland: 2

Michigan: 11

Michigan State: 3

Minnesota: 4

Nebraska: 3

Northwestern: 2

Ohio State: 1

Penn State: 5

Purdue: 0

Rutgers: 2

Wisconsin: 2

That OSU total is what we in the business call a statistical weirdity, and prompted me to recheck all the rosters, but yep: there’s somehow only one OSU player left, and Darron Lee was a midseason addition from the practice squad who’s only registered one tackle for the Bills this season.


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