Big Ten: Marquice Cole

It had been four years since a former Big Ten quarterback (Drew Brees in 2010) led his team to a Super Bowl championship. Russell Wilson ended the drought in dominating fashion Sunday night.

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
AP Photo/Paul SancyaRussell Wilson became the first former Big Ten QB to lead his team to a Super Bowl win since Drew Brees in 2010.
Wilson, who played his final collegiate season at Wisconsin, and a suffocating Seattle Seahawks defense pummeled Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. While Peyton Manning had a forgettable night, Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, displaying tremendous poise for a quarterback in only his second season in the NFL.

As Penn State fans were quick to point out to me on Twitter, two Big Ten quarterbacks became champions Sunday as former Nittany Lions signal-caller Michael Robinson, now the Seahawks' fullback, helped the Seattle offense have a big night.

For those saying the Big Ten can't claim Wilson because he played his first three years at NC State, it comes down to this: He had his best season at Wisconsin and finished his career there. He counts.

It was a fairly quiet night, statistically speaking, for former Big Ten players in the big game.

Here's a recap:

SEATTLE

  • Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns; he added 26 rushing yards.
  • Defensive end Cliff Avril (Purdue) recorded three tackles, one for loss, and had two pass deflections.
  • Robinson had one reception for 7 yards and served as Marshawn Lynch's lead blocker; he also had a tackle on special teams.
  • Linebacker O'Brien Schofield (Wisconsin) had a tackle for loss.
  • Safety Chris Maragos (Wisconsin) had a tackle on special teams.
  • Tight end Kellen Davis (Michigan State) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (Penn State) weren't active for the game.
DENVER

  • Running back Montee Ball (Wisconsin) had 1 rushing yard on six attempts and two receptions for 2 yards.
  • Wide receiver Eric Decker (Minnesota) had one reception for 6 yards (targeted five times) and one punt return for 9 yards.
  • Defensive end Shaun Phillips (Purdue) had four tackles.
  • Cornerback Marquice Cole (Northwestern) was active but didn't record any statistics.

Wisconsin fans had a lot to celebrate as a former Badgers quarterback -- Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell -- called plays for another in Wilson, who had a nice exchange with his former Badgers backfield mate after the game.
In 2011, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball formed one of the most explosive offensive backfields in Big Ten history and led Wisconsin to a league title and a Rose Bowl appearance. Somehow, that Badgers team managed to lose three games.

Wilson and Ball both celebrated other championships Sunday, as they helped their respective NFL teams -- Wilson is the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Ball is the 1A running back for the Denver Broncos -- win conference titles and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. For all the hand-wringing about playing the Super Bowl outdoors in likely frigid weather at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the two former Badgers likely won't mind it one bit.

Wisconsin is sending four former players to the Super Bowl -- safety Chris Maragos (Seattle) and linebacker O'Brien Schofield (Seattle) are the others. The Badgers lead all Big Ten teams and rank second nationally behind the University of Tennessee for most players on active rosters in the Super Bowl.

The game will also feature two offensive coordinators -- Seattle's Darrell Bevell (Wisconsin) and Denver's Adam Gase (Michigan State) -- who attended Big Ten schools.

Let's take a look at the complete list of players and coaches with Big Ten connections who are participating in Super Bowl XLVIII. (I'm guessing Big Ten fans are glad they don't have to take ownership of Richard Sherman.)

PLAYERS

Denver Broncos

Active roster
Reserve/injured/practice squad
Seattle Seahawks

Active roster
COACHES

Denver Broncos
  • Offensive coordinator Adam Gase graduated from Michigan State in 1999 and worked with the football coaches while in school.
  • Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1983.
  • Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers played quarterback at Indiana and started 15 games between 1996-98. He was a recruiting intern at Ohio State in 2000.
Seattle Seawhawks
  • Head coach Pete Carroll was Ohio State's secondary coach in 1979.
  • Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell played quarterback at Wisconsin, helping the Badgers to the Rose Bowl during the 1993 season. He set 19 team records and left as the Badgers' all-time passing yards leader (7,686).
  • Assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel served as Michigan State's offensive line coach under Nick Saban from 1998-99.
  • Running backs coach Sherman Smith was an Illinois assistant from 1992-94, working with both tight ends and running backs.

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