Top five B1G upsets of the regular season
If you’re a fan of the underdog, the B1G was the conference for you this season.
Not only did the conference enjoy its fair share of success at the top of the college football world, it also served up some of the most significant upsets across the country. And they all shared a common theme: special teams.
Several games came down to a final kick this season. Illinois State shocked Northwestern on a last-second field goal. Minnesota needed a late kick to survive a scare from Rutgers. Purdue claimed its only conference win of the season thanks to a winning field goal in overtime.
But there were some contests with more significant outcomes than the ones we just mentioned. Some of which sent a shockwave through the college football world. Those are the B1G games worthy of more recognition.
Here were the five biggest upsets of the 2016 season.
Spoiler alert: they all came down to a special teams play.
5) Oct. 1 – No. 17 Michigan State 21 Indiana 24
In hindsight, the Hoosiers overtime win over the Spartans doesn’t seem so impressive. Indiana went on to win six games while Michigan State finished the year 3-9. At the time, though, knocking off the reigning B1G champs was a significant accomplishment.
A decade at passed since the last time the Brass Spittoon was in Bloomington. So it’s easy to see why Griffin Oakes covered every square inch of Memorial Stadium after knocking the game-winner through the uprights to knock off No. 17 Michigan State.
4) Sept. 17 – No. 13 Iowa 21 North Dakota State 23
Can you even consider this an upset? After all, North Dakota State had won its last five games against FBS-level opponents.
Any hopes the Hawkeyes had of going undefeated in back-to-back seasons evaporated when Cam Peterson kicked the game-winning field goal to stun the West division champions.
Quick tip: don’t schedule North Dakota State if you’re looking for an easy win.
3) Sept. 3 – No. 5 LSU 14 Wisconsin 16
A new quarterback, question marks on the offensive line and Dave Aranda – Wisconsin’s former defensive coordinator – was standing on the other sideline.
Nobody was giving the Badgers a chance to beat a preseason SEC favorite, even at Lambeau Field. But forcing three turnovers and three Rafael Gaglianone field goals helped Wisconsin nab a win over a top five team in the first week of the season.
It was just the lift Wisconsin needed, as games against Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State weren’t far down the road in back-t0-back-to-back contests.
2) Nov. 12 – No. 2 Michigan 13 Iowa 14
There’s something magical for the Hawkeyes when they play under the lights at Kinnick Stadium.
With a division title in the rearview mirror, Iowa needed something to salvage an otherwise disappointing year. That something came on the leg of freshman Keith Duncan, who ended Michigan’s undefeated season.
That win wasn’t just big for the Hawkeyes, it carried a lot of impact throughout the B1G. Without that stunning upset, Penn State wouldn’t have won the conference and Michigan might still be a playoff contender.
Thank you, Iowa, for making the final two weeks really interesting.
1) Oct. 22 – No. 2 Ohio State 21 Penn State 24
“This valley hasn’t been this happy in a long time.”
Chris Fowler’s line after Penn State’s 24-21 upset win over Ohio State may have been college football’s quote of the year.
James Franklin was on the hot seat, Penn State had been written off and the program hadn’t separated itself from the rest of the pack in the B1G.
A blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown by Grant Haley changed all of that. After trailing 21-7, Penn State found a way to stun the Buckeyes in Beaver Stadium and changed the entire course of the season.
Franklin won the B1G Coach of the Year, Penn State took home a conference championship and the program is back on college football’s national stage.
You won’t find another upset that completely changed the course of a season like it did for the Nittany Lions.