The 2021 season was one of the more entertaining, chaotic and interesting years we’ve had in the sport in quite some time. Upsets were frequent, the College Football Playoff race was wide open and the Heisman Trophy proved to be up for grabs.

It was a fun year in the B1G, too.

A lot unfolded over the course of the regular season that nobody expected to see during the fall. So, before the conference’s bowl schedule kicks off and the calendar turns to 2022, let’s take a look back at some of most surprising things we saw — on and off the field — from the 2021 season.

Penn State’s inability to produce a 100-yard rusher

Remember in the offseason when we raved about the talent and depth in Penn State’s running back room? The combination of Noah Cain, Keyvone Lee, Devyn Ford and John Lovett looked like one of the most lethal in the B1G.

Nope. Not even close.

Penn State failed to produce a single-game 100-yard rusher this season and none of the ball carriers mentioned above eclipsed the 500-yard mark for the season. The Nittany Lions ended the year averaging 106.6 yards per game on the ground, the second-worst total in the B1G.

To call Penn State’s rushing attack in 2021 a disappointment would be a massive understatement.

Paul Chryst swears at the podium

Usually, the most interesting aspect of a press conference involving the Wisconsin head coach is if he mutters the phrase, “Looking forward to a good week of preparation.” It’s become a weekly staple — plus, he just doesn’t say much.

So pardon me for gasping when Chryst used some colorful language following Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan, dropping the Badgers to 1-3 on the season. If you missed it a few months ago, here’s the quick recap:

I’m not going to advocate for Chryst to swear more during his press conferences, but it would absolutely make it a must-watch clip every single week.

Jim Harbaugh slamming Ryan Day

Nothing has ever really stopped Harbaugh from speaking his mind in the past, but Michigan’s win over Ohio State at the end of the November certainly lifted any remaining filter the head coach had. After notching his first victory over the Buckeyes, Harbaugh made a pretty pointed comment at his counterpart on the other sideline.

“Sometimes people that are standing on third base think they hit a triple, but they didn’t,” Harbaugh said.

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Tell us how you really feel about Day!

It’s that kind of spice that makes “The Game” one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. The intensity of this year’s game made the season finale a must-watch affair. Having two head coaches that really don’t like one another standing on the two sidelines only adds to the entertainment value.

Kenneth Walker III’s complete evisceration of Michigan’s defense

There were some masterful performances throughout the course of the B1G regular season, but none more impressive than Walker’s dismantling of Michigan’s defense on Oct. 30. It was the day that the Michigan State running back proved he was a true Heisman Trophy contender.

Walker’s 197-yard, 5-touchdown performance against one of the best defensive teams in the nation to lift Michigan State to a 37-33 win was one of the greatest outings in the history of the rivalry game. It’s a game Spartans fans will talk about for decades.

Aidan O’Connell’s ridiculous completion rate

O’Connell went from backup quarterback to start the season to the B1G’s leader in completion percentage. I know you’ve heard this 1,000 times over the season, but he’s a former walk-on who was headed to a Division III school.

This year, O’Connell completed a blistering 73.5% of his passes. He was accurate on at least 74% of his passes in the final 7 games of the season, including an 83.9% completion rate in the season finale against Indiana.

Sure, having weapons like David Bell, Milton Wright, Payne Durham and Jackson Anthrop makes life a little easier, but it was still an incredible year for the Purdue quarterback.

Illinois’ 9 OT road victory over Penn State

Everyone criticized this game as being one of the worst of the season, mainly because of the lack of offensive production and the inability to connect on a 2-point conversion attempt for most of the overtime period. In my mind, this was an instant classic.

Bret Bielema took a struggling Illinois team on the road and secured a marquee road victory. Chase Brown racked up 223 yards on 33 carries. The defense held Penn State to just 227 yards and 14 first downs. The game set an NCAA record for most overtimes in a single game.

Maybe this game wasn’t attractive, but it was still a really fun cross-division game in late October, one that involved a major upset. Isn’t that what college football is all about?

The back-and-forth between Kirk Ferentz and James Franklin

If I would’ve talked about the Penn State-Iowa game producing some of the greatest drama for the upcoming B1G season, you probably would’ve kicked me in the shin and called me a liar. That’s exactly what happened, though.

Not only did the game have a major impact on the outlook of the season for both teams, Ferentz and Franklin took some shots at each other in the days after the Hawkeyes’ 23-20 victory at Kinnick Stadium.

Franklin was upset Iowa fans were booing Penn State’s injured players. Ferentz defended the fans, saying “the smelled a rat.” When the ping pong ball bounced back to State College, Franklin said he’s “trying to protect college football.”

It had elements of comedy, pettiness and drama. There’s no question it was one of the more entertaining elements of the B1G season.

Ohio State’s offense success didn’t result in a B1G title

Ohio State might’ve had its most dynamic offensive attack of the Day era and it’s the first time since 2016 the Buckeyes didn’t win a conference championship. That’s not something I would’ve expected to say.

This season, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson exceeded the 1,000-yard receiving mark and Chris Olave finished with over 900 yards. TreVeyon Henderson was a 1,000-yard rusher. CJ Stroud totaled 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns through the air. The Buckeyes led the nation in scoring offense (45.5 ppg) and total offense (551.1 ypg).

Somehow, that wasn’t enough.

Ohio State still enjoyed a great season, finishing 10-2 and will play Utah in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. It’s just uncommon the Buckeyes would have such a potent offense and not claim a B1G title.

Mel Tucker (basically) calling Michigan “soft”

Technically, Tucker didn’t directly call Michigan soft in a weekly press conference after Michigan State’s loss to Purdue, but it wasn’t hard to decode his message.

A question was tossed Tucker’s direction about a targeting call against Simeon Barrow in the loss to Purdue. The Michigan State head coach provided quite the answer.

While he didn’t elaborate much further, Tucker was almost certainly poking at Harbaugh, who had complained about poor officiating in Michigan’s loss to Michigan State.

Just like Harbaugh taking a shot at Day, Tucker taking a shot at his in-state rival is great for the sport and for the B1G. It just adds more fuel to the fire for next year’s matchup in Ann Arbor.

Nebraska’s unbelievably bad luck

Nine losses by single digits, a new college football record. Eight in one-possession games. Yes, the Huskers had some miscues in several of those games, but there’s also some bad luck involved with that many tight games.

It was equally impressive and devastating to watch Nebraska play every single week.