Big Ten: Courtney Roby

About a month after Iowa cemented a strong Big Ten bowl performance at Miami's Sun Life Stadium, the Big Ten once again stood out on the same field in a huge game.

[+] EnlargeDrew Brees
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelFormer Purdue signal-caller Drew Brees took home Super Bowl XLIV MVP honors.
Former Big Ten players had major roles for the New Orleans Saints in a 31-17 win against Indianapolis on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIV.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees took home MVP honors after completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Brees, a standout at Purdue, became the fourth former Big Ten player in the last nine seasons to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, joining former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady (2002, 2004) and former Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes (2009).

Brees was brilliant Sunday, but the game's biggest play came from former Indiana cornerback Tracy Porter, who intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and raced 74 yards to the end zone with 3:12 left. Porter finished the game with four tackles.

Former Illinois running back Pierre Thomas recorded six receptions for 55 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown that gave the Saints their first lead early in the third quarter. Thomas also had 30 rush yards on nine carries.

Former Iowa tight end Dallas Clark recorded a game-high 86 receiving yards on seven receptions for the Colts.

And who can forget former Wisconsin linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who recovered the onside kick for New Orleans at the start of the second half.

Other Big Ten notables:

  • Former Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins recorded five tackles for the Saints, including one for loss, and had a key pass breakup.
  • Former Illinois cornerback Kelvin Hayden recorded six tackles (five solo) for the Colts.
  • Former Indiana wideout Courtney Roby stood out on special teams for New Orleans with four kick returns for 102 yards and a great tackle on punt coverage. He also downed a punt at the Indianapolis 4-yard line in the first quarter.
  • Former Ohio State defensive end Will Smith recorded a tackle for the Saints.
  • Former Michigan running back Mike Hart had two carries for four yards for the Colts.

In case you missed it, here's the full list of former Big Ten players and coaches who participated in the game.
It's Super Bowl week, and here in Chicago, we're celebrating the hiring of Mike Martz as Bears offensive coordinator after a month-long search. Hope Jay Cutler has a life insurance policy.

OK, moving on to less depressing topics, like the Big Ten and Super Bowl XLIV.

Once again, the Big Ten has plenty of connections to the game, including 20 former players on the two teams, more than any other conference.

All 11 member schools will be represented by a player and/or coach participating in the game. Michigan has the highest number of former players (four), followed by Ohio State (three) and then six teams -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin -- each with two former players. Penn State and Minnesota will have former coaches on the sideline Sunday.

Both head coaches have Big Ten roots, as the Colts' Jim Caldwell played at Iowa and served as an assistant at Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State. The Saints' Sean Payton had a one-year stint as an Illinois assistant in 1996.

Here's the full lineup of Big Ten links to Super Bowl XLIV, courtesy of the league office:

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Players

Kelvin Hayden, DB, Illinois
Dallas Clark, TE, Iowa
Bob Sanders*, DB, Iowa
Mike Hart, RB, Michigan
Marlin Jackson*, DB, Michigan
Ervin Baldwin, DE, Michigan State
John Gill, DL, Northwestern
Anthony Gonzalez*, WR, Ohio State
Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue
Jim Sorgi*, QB, Wisconsin

Coaches

Jim Caldwell, Head Coach (Played at Iowa from 1973-76; Assistant at Iowa in 1977, Northwestern in 1981 and Penn State from 1986-92)
Larry Coyer, Defensive Coordinator (Assistant at Iowa from 1974-77 and Ohio State from 1991-92)
Gene Huey, Running Backs (Assistant at Ohio State from 1988-91)
Tom Moore, Offensive Coordinator (Played at Iowa from 1957-60; Assistant at Iowa from 1961-62 and Minnesota from 1972-73 and 1975-76)
Ray Rychleski, Special Teams (Assistant at Penn State in 1991)
Bill Teerlinck, Defensive Assistant (Assistant at Indiana from 2003-04)
John Teerlinck, Defensive Line (Assistant at Illinois from 1980-82)

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Players

Pierre Thomas, RB, Illinois
Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana
Courtney Roby, WR, Indiana
Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan
Jonathan Goodwin, C, Michigan
Zach Strief, OT, Northwestern
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Will Smith, DE, Ohio State
Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
Jonathan Casillas, LB, Wisconsin

Coaches

Sean Payton, Head Coach (Assistant at Illinois in 1996)
Greg McMahon, Special Teams (Assistant at Minnesota from 1983-84 and Illinois from 1992-2004)
Bret Ingalls, Running Backs (Assistant at Northwestern from 2006-08)
Aaron Kromer, Offensive Line/Running Game (Assistant at Northwestern from 1999-2000)
Mike Mallory, Assistant Special Teams (Played at Michigan from 1982-85; Assistant at Indiana from 1986-87 and Illinois from 2001-05)
Terry Malone, Tight Ends (Assistant at Michigan from 1997-2005)

*-Injured reserve

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Monday, 12/22
Saturday, 12/20
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12