There remains just one football game of true significance between now and the start of the 2020 college and pro seasons. Perhaps you may have heard of it. It’s called the Super Bowl.
We take a stab at ranking the Big Ten teams by virtue of not just number of players represented in the Super Bowl, but by quality as well. There is no exact formula, but quantity will usually outweigh quality in these rankings, especially if a particular Big Ten team has an overwhelming amount more players in the SB than another Big Ten team.
Another question worth asking: What matters more, college production or pro production? We’ll go with pro production, since the Super Bowl is the ultimate professional football game.
14. Northwestern: No players in the SB (15 total NFL players)
Northwestern? Last on a rankings list in the Big Ten? How surprising.
13. Maryland: No players in the SB (17 total NFL players)
Safety Darnell Savage of the Green Bay Packers was one of the better rookies in the NFC North this season, but in case you were not aware — the Packers did not qualify for Super Bowl LIV. What a shame.
12. Rutgers: No players in the SB (18 total NFL players)
The McCourty twins won’t save you now, Rutgers fans. The Patriots for the first time in world history did not make it to the Super Bowl. Tough luck, New England folks.
11. Nebraska: No players in the SB (27 total NFL players)
Once upon a time, Nebraska used to put countless tight ends and offensive linemen in the NFL. They still do to a large extent, but none appear in this year’s Super Bowl.
10. Wisconsin: No players in the SB (32 total NFL players)
The Badgers are an NFL factory. That factory did not produce any NFL players on either the Chiefs or the 49ers in 2019-2020.
9. Michigan State: One player (sort of) in the SB
One of San Francisco’s other tight ends not named George Kittle, Garrett Celek is a Michigan State alum who is on SF’s roster, but was placed on the Injured Reserved List last month after getting hurt in the 49ers game at the New Orleans Saints. He has 82 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his 8-year career all with SF.
8. Illinois: One player in SB
Offensive lineman Nick Allegretti deserves a ton of praise, and he was a rock for the Illinois Fighting Illini during some turbulent times in the program. He has not started a game this rookie season. His future looks bright and his career is just getting started.
Some look at the Chiefs as a dynasty in the making with quarterback Pat Mahomes and with Tom Brady and the Patriots out of the way in the AFC. Nick Allegretti will have a role in the future of Chiefs football.
7. Indiana: One player in SB
The Hoosiers produce running backs. Jordan Howard was one. Tevin Coleman on the 49ers is another. Coleman was one of three SF running backs to rush for over 500 yards this season. His six rushing touchdowns were the second most on his team.
Coleman was banged up early on against Green Bay and left the NFC Championship game with a dislocated shoulder, paving the way for Raheem Mostert to have a record-breaking day. He should be available to play in the Super Bowl in what is a dominant 49ers running back rotation.
6. Minnesota: One player in SB
Damien Wilson starts at linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, and the five-year pro was a one-time 4th Round NFL Draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys. His first year in Kansas City this current season was his best as a pro — he started every single game for the Chiefs and is a really solid player anchoring the middle of the defense.
5. Purdue: One player in SB
Raheem Mostert, take a bow. The San Francisco 49ers running back had an absolute field day against the Green Bay Packers on the biggest stage of his career thus far. 29 carries. 220 yards. Four touchdowns. SF’s offensive line put on a clinic.
Mostert was good, but this was men-against-boys in the NFC Championship game — time and time again, Mostert was not even touched by a Packers defender until he had already run for eight or nine yards. This was a beating of the highest order, and Mostert took full advantage.
4. Michigan: Two players in the SB
Chad Henne is the 3rd string quarterback in Kansas City behind Pat Mahomes and Matt Moore. He has experience and has been in the league a long time.
Frank Clark is one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and is a menace in the backfield. Frank Clark had some off-field issues in college and was kicked off of Michigan’s team his senior year by then-head coach Brady Hoke.
3. Ohio State: Two players in the SB
Nick Bosa has more than lived up the hype and expectation bestowed upon a former 2nd overall draft pick. He has 9.0 sacks this season and his impact rushing the passer is a major reason why the San Francisco 49ers were the best team in the NFL this year and winners of the NFC.
Darron Lee is a backup and rotational linebacker for the Chiefs. He does not play a whole lot (except for on special teams), but he did start two games this season for KC. This is Lee’s fourth year in the NFL and his first in Kansas City.
2. Penn State: Five Players in the SB
Kevin Givens is one of the pieces (barely) of San Francisco’s vaunted D-line. He’s been on and off SF’s roster and practice squad in 2019, and as of Dec. 28, the day before the season finale 49ers/Seattle Seahawks game to decide the NFC West, he was put on the 53-man roster.
Robbie Gould is a legend... at least passionate Chicago Bears fan think that’s the case. Gould is the 49ers kicker and has been since 2017.
Jordan Lucas is a backup strong safety for the Chiefs. As long as starter Tyrann ‘Honey Badger’ Mathieu stays healthy, which he has — Lucas won’t see the field on defense. He is a factor on special teams.
Stefen Wisniewski is a backup offensive lineman, however he has started the last four games for the Chiefs including the two playoff victories in the absence of the injured Andrew Wylie. It is unclear if Wylie will be healthy enough to play in the Super Bowl.
Anthony Zettel is a backup (really a 3rd string) defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers. He has just six total tackles on the year and has not been on the field at all so far in the playoffs.
1. Iowa: Four players in the SB (and where quality in Kittle trumps quantity)
George Kittle is the best tight end in football. He’s so good in all phases of playing the position — and even against Packers in the NFC Championship game, a game where he caught a season low one pass — he was crucial at sealing the edge as a blocker, using his body and strength to create massive holes for Raheem Mostert’s record-setting day. George Kittle is the San Francisco 49ers summed up. The grit. The passion. The nastiness. The fundamentally perfect player, and the best Big Ten player in the Super Bowl.
Anthony Hitchens started every game at outside linebacker for the Chiefs this season. He has 88 total tackles on the year.
Ben Niemann is in his second year as a pro playing for the Chiefs as a backup linebacker. He started one game this year and has 50 total tackles on the year. He also features on special teams.
CJ Beathard is the third string quarterback in San Francisco behind Jimmy G and Nick Mullens. Beathard has not played in 2019. He started 13 total games for the 49ers in 2017 and 2018.
Disagree? Let us know in the comments!