The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Divisions no more: Looking back on the ten-year history of the Big Ten East and West

Iowa football looks to become the first Big Ten West team to win the conference title since the geographic divisions were created.
The+Big+Ten+Championship+Trophy+is+shown+during+day+one+of+Big+Ten+Media+Days+at+Lucas+Oil+Stadium+in+Indianapolis%2C+Indiana%2C+on+Thursday%2C+July+22.+
Jerod Ringwald
The Big Ten Championship Trophy is shown during day one of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Thursday, July 22.

After Iowa defeated Illinois on Nov. 18 and Michigan prevailed over Ohio State on Nov. 25, the two respective teams hoisted what will soon be relics of a bygone era: the Big Ten West and East division trophies. 

The Big Ten Conference announced that it would ditch divisions and add four teams – USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington — starting in 2024. The league, which is set to be the largest conference in college football history with 18 teams,  wants to play each other more often, especially with the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams next season. Starting in 2024, the top two teams at the end of the regular season will play in the Big Ten title game.

The SEC was the first to use a division format after Arkansas and South Carolina became the 11th and 12th teams to join the conference in 1992. The SEC announced in June it will go divisonless in 2024 as the conference adds Texas and Oklahoma and expands to 16 teams.

“They’re very difficult to balance because they’d have to be large,” Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti told The Athletic about keeping divisions with 18 teams. “And secondly, if you’re playing nine conference games and you’re breaking into divisions, you’re playing so much against your own division that you’re not really crossing over. The inability to see other teams and really connect the conference is not ideal. So, there’s a competitive aspect to it, but there’s also a practicality.”

After Nebraska joined the conference in 2011, the Big Ten was divided into two divisions called Legends and Leaders. Three years later, when Rutgers and Maryland joined, the Big Ten divided into East and West groupings. This is how the Big Ten’s current 14 teams fared in the past ten years of the divisions’ existence. 

West (Since 2014)

Iowa 

88-38 Overall 

58-29 Conference  

3 division titles

Purdue

48-71 Overall 

32-53 Conference  

1 division title

Wisconsin 

90-37 Overall 

59-26 Conference  

4 division titles (shared title with Minnesota in 2019)

Nebraska

52-67 Overall 

33-54 Conference  

0 division titles

Illinois 

46-73 Overall 

27-60 Conference  

0 division titles

Northwestern

62-60 Overall 

43-43 Conference  

2 division titles

Minnesota 

Since 2014

72-50 Overall 

41-45 Conference  

1 division title (shared title with Wisconsin in 2019)

East (Since 2014)

Ohio State

115-14 Overall 

77-7 Conference  

8 division titles (shared with Michigan State in 2015, with Penn State in 2016, with Michigan in 2018 and 2021)

Michigan 

91-32 Overall 

63-22 Conference  

4 division titles (shared with Ohio State in 2018 and 2021)

Penn State 

88-38 Overall 

56-32 Conference  

1 division title (shared with Ohio State in 2016)

Rutgers 

Since 2014

39-80 Overall 

16-72 Conference  

0 division titles

Michigan State 

Since 2014

72-50 Overall 

45-41 Conference  

1 division title (shared with Ohio State in 2015)

Indiana 

49-70 Overall 

25-61 Conference  

0 division titles

Maryland 

52-65 Overall 

27-57 Conference  

0 division titles

Big Ten Champions Since 2014

2014- Ohio State

2015- Michigan State

2016- Penn State

2017- Ohio State

2018-Ohio State

2019-Ohio State

2020- Ohio State

2021- Michigan

2022- Michigan

Combined score of all the Big Ten title games since 2014

East 326 West 145

Highest-scoring Big Ten West games

Wisconsin 47, Purdue 44 in 3OT in 2018

Purdue 55, Nebraska 45 in 2015 

Lowest-scoring Big Ten West game 

Illinois 9, Iowa 6 in 2022

Other memorable Big Ten West games 

Iowa goes 10-0 for the first time after a 40-35 over Minnesota in 2015

Wisconsin 35, Nebraska 28 in 2021, Braelon Allen rushes for 228 yards and three touchdowns

Minnesota 12, Iowa 10 in 2023, Cooper DeJean winning punt return TD called back because of invalid fair catch

Highest-scoring Big Ten East game

Ohio State 52, Maryland 51 in 2018 

Ohio State 62, Michigan 39 in 2018  

Lowest-scoring Big Ten East game

Penn State 13, Indiana 7 in 2014 

Other memorable Big Ten East games 

Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 in 2OT in 2016

Michigan State 37, Michigan 33 in 2021, Spartans come back from a 16-point deficit 

Michigan State 27, Michigan 23 in 2015, Spartans win on fumbled punt return TD

Big Ten Newcomers 

Washington 

85-37 overall record since 2014 

Oregon

89-37 overall record since 2014 

UCLA 

62-57 overall record since 2014 

USC

78-45 overall record since 2014 

Records against Big Ten foes since 2014

Washington: 5-3

Oregon: 5-3

UCLA: 0-1

USC: 2-3

Notable incoming players  

USC 

First-year WR Zachariah Branch (29 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns)

Second-year QB Miller Moss (309 passing yards in three games this season, is set to take over for starter Caleb Williams next season)

Second-year DL Bear Alexander (26 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2023)

UCLA

Second-year RB TJ Harden (5.3 yards per carry on 136 attempts this season)

First-year DB Kamari Ramsey (40 total tackles and an interception this year)

Washington 

Second-year WR Ja’Lynn Polk (Texas Tech transfer has caught eight touchdowns so far this season)

Second-year CB Elijah Jackson (49 tackles and two forced fumbles this season)

Second-year PK Grady Gross (perfect on all 54 extra point attempts this season, and was offered a scholarship after kicking a game-winning field goal last week against Washington State)

Oregon 

Second-year RB Jordan James (661 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns this season)

Second-year WR Gary Bryant Jr. (Averaging 14.6 yards per catch with three touchdowns in 2023)

Second-year DB Jahlil Florence (21 solo tackles and an interception this season)

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
she/her/hers
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Jerod Ringwald, Creative Director
(he/him/his)
Jerod Ringwald is the Creative Director at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. He was previously a managing editor this past summer as well as a former photo editor. During his sophomore year, he worked as a photojournalist covering news and sports.