In 2011, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball formed one of the most explosive offensive backfields in Big Ten history and led Wisconsin to a league title and a Rose Bowl appearance. Somehow, that Badgers team managed to lose three games.
Wilson and Ball both celebrated other championships Sunday, as they helped their respective NFL teams -- Wilson is the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Ball is the 1A running back for the Denver Broncos -- win conference titles and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. For all the hand-wringing about playing the Super Bowl outdoors in likely frigid weather at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the two former Badgers likely won't mind it one bit.
Wisconsin is sending four former players to the Super Bowl -- safety Chris Maragos (Seattle) and linebacker O'Brien Schofield (Seattle) are the others. The Badgers lead all Big Ten teams and rank second nationally behind the University of Tennessee for most players on active rosters in the Super Bowl.
The game will also feature two offensive coordinators -- Seattle's Darrell Bevell (Wisconsin) and Denver's Adam Gase (Michigan State) -- who attended Big Ten schools.
Let's take a look at the complete list of players and coaches with Big Ten connections who are participating in Super Bowl XLVIII. (I'm guessing Big Ten fans are glad they don't have to take ownership of Richard Sherman.)
RB Montee Ball (Wisconsin)
CB Marquice Cole (Northwestern)
WR Eric Decker (Minnesota)
DE Shaun Phillips (Purdue)
DE Cliff Avril (Purdue)
TE Kellen Davis (Michigan State)
DT Jordan Hill (Penn State)
S Chris Maragos (Wisconsin)
FB Michael Robinson (Penn State)
LB O'Brien Schofield (Wisconsin)
QB Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase graduated from Michigan State in 1999 and worked with the football coaches while in school.
Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1983.
Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers played quarterback at Indiana and started 15 games between 1996-98. He was a recruiting intern at Ohio State in 2000.
Head coach Pete Carroll was Ohio State's secondary coach in 1979.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell played quarterback at Wisconsin, helping the Badgers to the Rose Bowl during the 1993 season. He set 19 team records and left as the Badgers' all-time passing yards leader (7,686).
Assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel served as Michigan State's offensive line coach under Nick Saban from 1998-99.
Running backs coach Sherman Smith was an Illinois assistant from 1992-94, working with both tight ends and running backs.