Because it’s Friday before the Super Bowl and you’ve likely not spent enough time thinking about the big game in Arizona, let’s look at it from a Big Ten perspective.
These fascinating maps published by Athlon Sports, which detail the colleges and high schools of every player on the New England and Seattle active and injured-reserve rosters -- be sure to set aside some time to study them -- got me in the mood.
Between bites of chicken wings and nacho dip, impress with your friends with these nuggets:
The state of Illinois produced six Patriots and two Seahawks. Of the eight Illinoisans (more than from any state other than California, Texas and Florida), five played at Big Ten schools.
Who got away? New England reserve quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who played at Eastern Illinois; New England defensive end Zach Moore of Division II Concordia (Minnesota); and linebacker Darius Fleming of the Patriots, who played at Notre Dame.
The Super Bowl features four Seahawks and two Patriots who played at Wisconsin -- headlined, of course, by Wilson. The six ex-Badgers are the most from any college. Two are on injured reserve.
Michigan and Big Ten newbie Rutgers are among seven schools that placed four players in Super Bowl XLIX. That prestigious list also includes Alabama, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford and Texas A&M. Another six programs are represented Sunday by three players, including Illinois and Purdue. The others? LSU, TCU, USC and California.
Kent State, Memphis and Louisiana Tech placed two players apiece in the Super Bowl, more than Ohio State, which sends only New England safety Nate Ebner. But Seattle coach Pete Carroll coached the Buckeyes’ secondary under Earle Bruce in 1979, 15 years before his first head-coaching gig.
Other than Brady and Wilson, probable starters Sunday from the Big Ten are New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich (Purdue), New England safety Devin McCourty (Rutgers) and Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril (Purdue).
Both of Rob Gronkowski's backups played in the Big Ten -- Michael Hoomanawanui at Illinois and Tim Wright at Rutgers. Keep an eye on the tight-end duo. Hoomanawanui factored in the Patriots’ creative alignments against Baltimore in the AFC divisional round, lining up as an eligible receiver at tackle. Wright caught six touchdown passes in the regular season.
Based on their history, the Patriots will probably get creative near the goal line. In their two most recent Super Bowl wins, former Ohio State linebacker Mike Vrabel caught touchdowns from Brady.
On to the links:
Who's up next for Ohio State at defensive tackle?
An amusing and imaginative reenactment at what happened when Mike Riley moved into the office occupied by a certain former Nebraska coach.
Getting to know a few Big Ten recruits: A versatile offensive lineman headed to Indiana; a future receiver at Northwestern; a Purdue defensive end commit and a lineman set to sign next week with Illinois.
A court date for former Michigan defensive end Frank Clark is set for next month.
The upcoming BYU-Michigan State series includes a $1 million buyout on both sides unless the Cougars join a Power 5 league, in which case they can get out for no penalty.
Iowa spent less on facilities in 2014 and, as a result, made money as an athletic department.
Minnesota adds an impressive safety prospect out of Michigan.
Is Maryland in danger of losing a second recruit to Indiana?