Who doesn’t love to learn about history? Admit it, even if you were the one who fell asleep during your Western Civilization or American History classes in high school and college, you don’t mind learning a few things about B1G history.

Sure, maybe since I studied history, I find this stuff a little more interesting than most. But when it comes to applying history to B1G streaks, tendencies and head coaches, it certainly increases the value of the intrigue.

Believe it or not, heading into the 2020 college football season, there are plenty of interesting B1G storylines — many of which deal with the historical factor of the programs. So, I decided to take a plunge into some of the more captivating things we could see this fall.

Enjoy this look into some B1G history, and what’s at stake for several B1G head coaches in 2020.

Lovie Smith could lead Illinois to consecutive bowl games for just the fourth time in program history

There have been 14 head football coaches at Illinois since the Robert Zuppke days began (1913) and only three of them have guided the Illini to back-to-back postseason appearances. That’s probably why there’s been so many faces on the sidelines, now that I think about it.

Here’s the list:

  • Mike White (1982-83)
  • John Mackovic (1988-91)
  • Ron Zook (2010-11)

Smith can join this exclusive list in 2021 if the Illini get to six wins and clinch another postseason berth.

Only four times in the program’s history has Illinois gone to consecutive bowl games, with the longest streak coming under Mackovic, who guided the Illini to four-straight postseason appearances. With two, Smith would tie the second-longest streak in the team’s history.


Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska missed four bowl games from 1962-2016. It’s on the verge of missing it’s fourth-straight postseason 

Nebraska has primarily been tied with favorable streaks. The Huskers have the longest sellout streak in college football; they once won 29-straight season openers; and appeared in a bowl game in 35 consecutive seasons from 1969 through 2003. But now, it’s a lack of postseason appearances that has ignited a new streak in Lincoln.

Dating back to Mike Riley’s last season in 2017, the Huskers haven’t played in a bowl game for three consecutive seasons. If Nebraska fails to make a bowl game in 2020, it will lengthen that drought to four games. The program missed just four bowl games from 1962-2016, just to put that in perspective.

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Scott Frost would be the first head coach since Bill Jennings (1957-61) to not reach the postseason three times. By the way, back when Jennings was coaching, there were between 7 and 11 bowl games per season, depending on the year.

20 years ago, Purdue won the B1G in Joe Tiller’s fourth season

Joe Tiller took the job at Purdue in 1997. Jeff Brohm took the job at Purdue in 2017.

In Tiller’s fourth year, the Boilermakers claimed a B1G title and made a trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl. Could Purdue enjoy the same fate exactly 20 years later?

Admittedly, Tiller had quite a bit more success in his first three seasons than Brohm has enjoyed (at least from a wins perspective). But, hey, both were offensive gurus who arrived in West Lafayette from Group of Five programs. Who says history can’t repeat itself?

Kirk Ferentz could set a new Iowa record with another postseason win this year

Yes, Ferentz basically owns every record in Iowa’s coaching history, but that just means he can set a new personal best in 2020. And if he can guide the Hawkeyes to another bowl victory this season, he’ll set the bar even higher in Iowa City.

Ferentz was the first Iowa coach to lead the team to three-consecutive bowl victories (2008-10) and now has a chance to extend that winning streak to four games this season. The Hawkeyes won the Pinstripe Bowl in 2017, the Outback Bowl in 2018 and last year’s Holiday Bowl.

It’s always fun to break your own records.

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

No coach in Michigan football history has coached six seasons and not won a conference title

If you believe history is “doomed” to repeat itself, then it may actually be welcoming news to Michigan fans. Why? No coach in the program’s history has gone through six seasons and not won at least a share of a conference title.

Fritz Crisler won one in his sixth season (1943) and Bump Elliott won one in his sixth season, as well (1964). Ironically enough, Jim Harbaugh is entering his sixth year at Michigan and has yet to win a B1G title. Could 2021 be the year?

If the Wolverines don’t win the B1G, Harbaugh will be the first coach in program history to have been on the sidelines this long without claiming a league crown. That’s the wrong side of Michigan history to be on.

Tom Allen needs four B1G wins to crack Indiana’s top five in conference wins 

Almost unbelievable, isn’t it? The idea that a fourth-year head coach who has enjoyed moderate success in conference play could already be in the top five in league wins in the program’s history.

Four B1G wins this season would put Allen at 13 conference victories, moving him past Cam Cameron for fifth all-time, who had 12 in his time with the Hoosiers. Here are the top four right now (B1G wins):

  1. Bill Mallory (39)
  2. Bo McMillan (34)
  3. Lee Corso (28)
  4. John Pont (21)

Allen still has at least a few years before challenging for the top three spots, but if he continues to get the Hoosiers to bowl games, he’ll be in Bloomington long enough to challenge the great Bill Mallory for that No. 1 spot.

It’s just slightly crazy that 13 wins would crack the top five. Even at IU.

It’s been over 100 years since Minnesota hit double-digit win totals in back-to-back seasons

The last time Minnesota enjoyed 11 wins in a single season, it was racking up over 100 points against high school teams at the turn of the (20th) century. Unsurprisingly, it was that same time when the Golden Gophers posted back-t0-back double-digit win seasons, last happening from 1903-05.

P.J. Fleck got Minnesota to an 11-2 mark in 2019 and is hoping to enter the new decade in similar fashion. If the Gophers recorded another 10-win season, it would be the first time its happened in the modern era for the program.

Fleck and the Gophers have already made history, why not make a little more?

Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Chryst could tie Urban Meyer for most B1G Championship Game appearances this season

Technically, Chryst doesn’t own as many division titles as Meyer, as the former Ohio State head coach claimed five — missing the 2016 B1G Championship Game due to the head-to-head loss to Penn State.

But, if Wisconsin wins the West in 2020 and heads to Lucas Oil Stadium again in December, it will be his fourth trip to Indianapolis since taking over the program in 2015. Meyer also took the Buckeyes to four B1G Championship Games. The Buckeyes would’ve gone five times, but were dealing with NCAA sanctions in 2012, prohibiting them from competing for a conference title.

Chryst would have the upper hand, though. If Wisconsin gets to Indy, it would be the fourth time in six seasons. It took Meyer seven seasons to reach the title game four times.