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Big Ten Legends and Leaders Simulation

What if Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 1996?

By Ryan Fowler, WhatIfSports.com
August 8th, 2011

With the 2011 Big Ten football season right around the corner, Whatifsports.com teamed up with the Big Ten Network to launch our latest simulation project, "Big Ten Legends and Leaders: 1996-2010."

Using our college football simulation engine, we simulated 15 hypothetical Big Ten seasons and schedules. We wanted to know how the conference would have looked had the Legends and Leaders divisions existed and had Nebraska been part of the mix since 1996.

Over the next two weeks, Big Ten Network will unveil one Legends and Leaders simulation season per day on their website.

Each season synopsis includes simulation scores for EVERY game, a simulation box score with play-by-play and Narrative Science game recap for the Big Ten Sim Game of the Week. Users can also view the simulation box score with play-by-play for all 15 Big Ten Conference Championship games.

Here is an example from the 1996 simulation season:

WEEK 1 RESULTS

Michigan 33, Minnesota 14 Northwestern 33, Illinois 17 Ohio State 30, Michigan State 10 Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 14

WEEK 1: GAME OF THE WEEK

PENN STATE 23, INDIANA 13

Fourth quarter keys Penn State to 23-13 victory over Hoosiers

In the first week of our simulated 1996 Big Ten football season, Penn State visited Leaders Division foe Indiana. The Nittany Lions took the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 23-13 victory over the Hoosiers.

With 6:52 to go, Wally Richardson hit Keith Olsommer in the endzone from five yards out to give Penn State a 20-13 lead.

The Nittany Lions' Richardson was good for 201 yards during the game, completing 17 of 28 passes. Richardson tossed one touchdown while throwing no interceptions. Joe Jurevicius was the player Richardson targeted most often. He hauled in five catches for 70 yards.

Penn State's explosive offense used big plays to take down Indiana. The Nittany Lions had four plays of 20 yards or more on their way to victory. With 34 seconds to go in the second quarter, Richardson ran 31 yards for Penn State's biggest gain of the game. Despite the highlight, the Nittany Lions failed to score on that drive, which stalled at Penn State's own 31-yard line.

Chris Dittoe threw for 138 yards while completing 11 of 25 passes for the Hoosiers. He threw one touchdown and one interception.

Indiana's offense finished the game having gained 296 yards. In addition to Dittoe's efforts through the air, the Hoosiers also rushed 38 times for 158 yards.

Eric Sturdifen terrorized Indiana's line with two sacks. His biggest play came on a critical drive in the second quarter, when he sacked Dittoe on second-and-4 for a six-yard loss.

The Nittany Lions racked up 364 total yards. Penn State complemented Richardson's passing attack with 163 yards rushing on 60 attempts.

- Narrative Science

For more on the Legends and Leaders: 1996-2010 Simulation Project, be sure to check out www.bigtennetwork.com.

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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