Which Big Ten offense was most diverse in 2000s?

April, 29, 2010
4/29/10
2:30
PM ET
Remember when Minnesota was a national haven for top running backs? Or when Michigan mass-produced elite wide receivers nearly every year?

It wasn't that long ago, as Rivals.com reminds us.

Rivals calculated the 1,000-yard rushers, 3,000-yard passers and 1,000-yard receivers for each FBS school in the last decade (2000-09). The goal was to identify the "Diversification Quotient," or the sum total of those three categories. The DQ is used to identify what Rivals calls the most diverse offenses from the last decade of college football. Obviously, there are other ways to go about this, but this is a simple approach that reminds us of how certain teams performed in the last decade.

So who had the Big Ten's most diverse offense? The Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan led the Big Ten and tied for eighth nationally with a Diversification Quotient of 15. The Wolverines had six 1,000-yard rushers, one 3,000-yard passer and eight 1,000-yard receivers.

A few spots down the list are Minnesota and Purdue, which both owned a DQ of 12. The Gophers produced a whopping 10 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers but no 3,000-yard passers. The Boilers, meanwhile, had six 3,000-yard passers, four 1,000-yard receivers and two 1,000-yard rushers.

Hawaii, Oregon State and Texas Tech led the nation in DQ, though Oregon State was the only team to grade in all three categories. Check out the full national breakdown.

Here's the DQ for each Big Ten team:

Michigan: 15
Minnesota: 12
Purdue: 12
Wisconsin: 10
Northwestern: 9
Michigan State: 9
Ohio State: 7
Penn State: 7
Illinois: 7
Iowa: 7
Indiana: 5

The category breakdown is below. Five Big Ten teams appear in all three categories: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

My prevailing thought: If this chart doesn't convince you that defense wins in the Big Ten, nothing else will. Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa combined to win or share 10 league championships in the aughts, but all three programs rank near the bottom of the league in DQ.

It's also interesting to think how high Michigan would rank nationally if not for the last two seasons under Rich Rodriguez, when the team lacked a 1,000-yard rusher, a 3,000-yard passer or a 1,000-yard receiver. Minnesota also could have been higher if it had stuck with head coach Glen Mason and didn't switch to the spread offense for 2007-08.

And lastly, how did Minnesota and Michigan State not win more?

Several Big Ten teams also appear among the national leaders for specific categories:
  • Minnesota tied for first in 1,000-yard rushers with 10. Who shared the title? West Virginia, coached mostly by Rodriguez. Wisconsin tied for sixth with eight 1,000-yard rushers, and five Big Ten schools -- Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State -- tied for 21st with six 1,000-yard rushers.
  • Purdue tied for third in 3,000-yard passers with six. It's a big reason why the Boilers have so many current NFL quarterbacks.
  • Every Big Ten team produced at least one 1,000-yard rusher in the decade.
  • Northwestern and Penn State were the only Big Ten teams not to produce at least one 1,000-yard receiver
  • Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio State failed to produce any 3,000-yard passers

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