INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Eight wins, zero losses.
That’s the easiest way to summarize the Big Ten East division’s dominance over the West in conference championship games. In those eight games, the East has outscored the West by 283-123, with an average score of 35-15.
The Big Ten expanded to 14 teams ahead of the 2014 season, stretching as far as the East Coast with Rutgers and Maryland. This came with the realignment to the current format of the East and West divisions, doing away with the short-lived Leaders and Legends divisions.
And ever since, the East’s stranglehold on the West has been a group effort. Ohio State leads the way in that span with five Big Ten titles, including a four-year reign from 2017-2020. Michigan State and Penn State were also crowned champions, and Michigan has been the Big Ten’s top dog in recent years and now stands short of back-to-back college football playoff appearances. With Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan alone, the Big Ten East have sent as many teams to the college football playoffs as any conference combined.
In the 2022 regular season, the East had a combined overall record of 53-31 while the West went 42-42. In head-to-heads this year, the East held a 13-8 lead with an average score of 25-21.
In its current form, the Big Ten Championship was particularly close. The Wolverines beat Iowa by 39 points in 2021, and the last four Big Ten championship games have been decided by 12 or more points. This year, Michigan is favored over Purdue by 16.5 points, according to SI Sportsbook.
Here’s a rundown of every Big Ten championship since 2014:
December 6, 2014 – State of Ohio 59, Wisconsin 0
December 5, 2015 – Michigan State 16, Iowa 13
December 3, 2016 – Penn State 38, Wisconsin 31
December 2, 2017 – State of Ohio 27, Wisconsin 21
December 1, 2018 – Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24
December 7, 2019 – State of Ohio 34, Wisconsin 21
December 19, 2020 – Ohio State 22, Northwestern 10
December 4, 2021 – Michigan 42, Iowa 3
So for Purdue, the 2022 season is a shot in program history. After defeating Indiana 30-16 in the Old Oaken bucket game, Purdue won its first Big Ten West Division title. Purdue went 8-4 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play this year and will represent the West in the Big Ten championship against undefeated No. 2 Michigan.
The Boilermakers, also known as “Spoilermakers”, have a knack for surprises under coach Jeff Brom. Purdue is 3-0 with Brohm against the top three teams, including the 2018 win over Ohio State and wins over Iowa and Michigan State in 2021.
Purdue can claim its first Big Ten title since 1929 with a win over No. 2 Michigan in Saturday’s opener at 8 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium. Purdue, Michigan and Northwestern each finished 6-2 conference records in the Big Ten in 2000, but the Boilermakers held the tiebreaker and went to the Rose Bowl, where they lost 34-24 to Washington.
The 2023 Rose Bowl game is contractually obligated to feature the Big Ten Conference Champion, so Saturday’s win over the Wolverines would result in Purdue’s first trip to the Rose Bowl since Drew Brees and the Boilermakers wrote about two decades in “The Grandaddy.” of Them All” before.
Brohm is proud of what the Boilermakers have accomplished this year, but he understands that Michigan is without question the best team Purdue has faced this year.
“Our guys put in the work,” said Brohm. “They are hungry. You have a chip on your shoulder. You want to show people what you can do and that’s what you want. They want to coach a bunch of hungry guys who want to do something special and I know they want to play the best they can for the fans and the people who support us and go out there and play a full game of football.”