Ranking of Big Ten football teams by number of division titles

In case you missed the news yesterday, according to a piece in The Athletic, it seems the Big Ten is wondering if having two divisions in football is still worth all the fuss. Citing the new alliance with the Pac-12 and ACC, eliminating divisions and moving from a conference schedule from nine to eight games may be better for the conference.

So, as we jump into the football time machine, let’s take a look at the history of having two divisions in the big, bad, Big Ten. The two-part thing first started in 2011, except it was a little crazy when things first rolled off the press. In a nod to having a competitive balance (good move), the conference suits decided not to go geographic and renamed the divisions Leaders and Legends (just weird, man).

After dodging all kinds of jokes about the names of the divisions, such as a front row contestant at a stand-up comedy show, the Big Ten moved on to the East and West divisions and matched teams that more or less lined up. location were based. And that, my friends, is where things still stand today.

But maybe it won’t be long. If the Big Ten decides to pull the deal on having divisions, the change to a more linear alignment could come as early as 2023. Welp, it got us thinking about how well each team was doing winning a division, so we decided to go back and do the very easy math (that’s how I like my problems) and figure it all out.

Here is each Big Ten team ranked by the number of division titles it has won since the division into two divisions began in 2011. As usual, we go from worst to first.

Teams equal without division titles

Oct 30, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights placeholder Adam Korsak (94) pats teammate and placekicker Valentino Ambrosio (1) on the helmet after a second-half field goal against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Teams still chasing a division title

Illinois Fights Illinois
Indiana Hoosiers
Maryland Terrapins (joined Big Ten in 2014)
Purdue Boilermakers
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (joined Big Ten in 2014)

no. 8 (tie) – Nebraska Cornhuskers (1 division title)

Oct 6, 2018; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; A Nebraska Cornhuskers helmet stands on the sidelines during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2012 | Legends Division

No. 8 (tie) – Minnesota Golden Gophers (1 division title)

26 Oct 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of the Minnesota Golden Gophers helmet before a game against the Maryland Terrapins at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2019 | West Division tie with Wisconsin*

*Wisconsin won a direct tiebreak to play in the B1G Championship

no. 4 (tie) – Penn State Nittany Lions (2 division titles)

Nov 16, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; General view of a Penn State Nittany Lions helmet prior to the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2011 | Draw for the Legends Division with Wisconsin*
2016 | East Division tie with Ohio State^

*Wisconsin won a direct tiebreak to play in the B1G Championship
^Penn State won head-to-head tiebreak to play in B1G Championship

no. 4 (tie) – Northwestern Wildcats (2 division titles)

September 30, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Northwestern Wildcats helmets on the field prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2018 | Title of the Outright West Division
2020 | Title of the Outright West Division

no. 4 (tie) – Michigan Wolverines (2 division titles)

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Nov 18, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; A Michigan Wolverines helmet during their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2018 | East Division title tie with Ohio State*
2021 | East Division title tie with Ohio State^

* Ohio State won head-to-head tiebreaker to play in B1G Championship
^Michigan won head-to-head tiebreak to play in B1G Championship

No. 4 (tie) – Iowa Hawkeyes (2 division titles)

The helmet Drew Ott wore during his playing days in Iowa sits on a closet at his and his wife Kali’s home in Trumbull, NE on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Year(s) won

2015 | Title of the Outright West Division
2021 | Title of the Outright West Division

No. 3 – Michigan State Spartans (3 division titles)

Michigan State Jalen Nailor will wear the ‘S’ logo on his helmet along with the rest of the Spartans for the game against Indiana on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2011 | Title of the Outright Legends Division
2013 | Title of the Outright Legends Division
2015 | East Division title tie with Ohio State^

^ Michigan State won head-to-head tiebreaker to play in B1G Championship

No. 2 – Wisconsin Badgers (5 division titles)

Nov 9, 2019; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2011 | Tie for the Leaders Division title with Penn State^
2014 | Outright West Division title
2016 | Outright West Division title
2017 | Outright West Division title
2019 | West Division title tie with Minnesota^

^Wisconsin won head-to-head tiebreak to play in B1G Championship

No. 1 – Ohio State Buckeyes (10 division titles)

Sat, Jan 1. 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; A special pink helmet stripe adorns Thayer Munford’s helmet before the start of the 108th Rose Bowl Game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2012 | Title of the Outright Leaders Division
2013 | Title of the Outright Leaders Division
2014 | Title of the Outright East Division
2015 | East Division title tie with Michigan State*
2016 | East Division title tie with Penn State*
2017 | Title of the Outright East Division
2018 | East Division title tie with Michigan^
2019 | Title of the Outright East Division
2020 | Title of the Outright East Division
2021 | East Division title tie with Michigan*

*Opponent won head-to-head tiebreak to play in B1G Championship
^ Ohio State won head-to-head tiebreaker to play in B1G Championship

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