What a month for the Big Ten.
It began with a better-than-expected result on New Year's Day, typically a gloomy afternoon for the league. Then Ohio State won the national championship, the Big Ten's first crown since the 2002 season. More good news arrived Sunday as the Super Bowl XLIX matchup was set, featuring two quarterbacks from the Big Ten.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a Michigan product, will make his sixth Super Bowl appearance. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played his final college season at Wisconsin, will attempt to become the first quarterback to win Super Bowls in consecutive seasons since Brady in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
It's the first time two starting quarterbacks who played for Big Ten schools will match up in a Super Bowl.
(This is the point where some grumps yell about how Wisconsin can't claim Wilson. Nice try. He was a very good quarterback at NC State. He became a national awards candidate and an All-American at Wisconsin under the tutelage of Paul Chryst. Wilson always will be a Badger. End of discussion).
Another Big Ten product, Garry Gilliam, figured prominently in Seattle's wild comeback in the NFC title game. The former Penn State tight end, who moved to tackle later in his career, caught a touchdown pass on a fake field-goal attempt, putting the Seahawks on the scoreboard.
Here's a full list of the Big Ten's Super Bowl XLIX connections:
Cliff Avril, defensive end, Purdue
Gilliam, offensive tackle, Penn State
Tony Moeaki, tight end, Iowa
O'Brien Schofield, defensive end, Wisconsin
Wilson, quarterback, Wisconsin
David Gilreath, wide receiver, Wisconsin
Jordan Hill, defensive tackle, Penn State
Stephen Schilling, guard, Michigan
Mike Taylor, linebacker, Wisconsin
Head coach Pete Carroll was an Ohio State assistant in 1979
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell played quarterback at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to a Big Ten title in 1993 and a Rose Bowl championship
Running backs coach Sherman Smith was an Illinois assistant from 1992-94
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Brady, quarterback, Michigan
Alan Branch, defensive tackle, Michigan
Jonathan Casillas, linebacker, Wisconsin
Nate Ebner, safety, Ohio State
Duron Harmon, safety, Rutgers*
Michael Hoomanawanui, tight end, Illinois
Devin McCourty, cornerback, Rutgers*
Rob Ninkovich, defensive end, Purdue
Ryan Logan, cornerback, Rutgers*
Joe Vellano, defensive tackle, Maryland*
James White, running back, Wisconsin
Tavon Wilson, safety, Illinois
Tim Wright, tight end, Rutgers*
*-Did not play in Big Ten, as school joined conference later
Michael Buchanan, defensive end, Illinois
Alfonzo Dennard, cornerback, Nebraska
Cameron Gordon, linebacker, Michigan
James Morris, linebacker, Iowa
Greg Orton, wide receiver, Purdue
Justin Green, cornerback, Illinois
Eric Martin, linebacker, Nebraska
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1999-2000
Tight ends coach Brian Daboll was a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1998-99