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Rutgers leads list of Big Ten players headed to Super Bowl

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Let the hype begin for Super Bowl LI. The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will play for football's biggest prize in Houston on Feb. 5. And as always, several Big Ten alums will be part of the extravaganza.

It might surprise you to learn that Rutgers -- that is not a typo -- has more players on the Super Bowl rosters than any other Big Ten team. In fact, as NJ.com's Steve Politi points out, the Scarlet Knights' five representatives on both rosters (counting injured linebacker Jonathan Freeny) is the most of any college team.

Penn State has one player on the rosters -- sort of. Wide receiver Chris Hogan, who starred in Sunday's AFC championship game for New England, was a star lacrosse player for the Nittany Lions from 2007-09. After graduating from Penn State, he transferred to FCS Monmouth and played football for one season. He eventually became another Bill Belichick diamond-in-the-rough story.

Belichick has had a close relationship with Rutgers, dating back to his friendship with former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano. His son, Steve Belichick, played long-snapper and graduated from the school. He is now the Patriots' safeties coach.

Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Purdue from 1991-94 and the running backs coach at Ohio State from 1989-90. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and tight ends coach Brian Daboll were graduate assistants at Michigan State under Nick Saban.

Here's a look at the players from Big Ten schools who will be in the Super Bowl:

New England

QB Tom Brady, Michigan

DL Alan Branch, Michigan

DB Nate Ebner, Ohio State

OL Chase Farris, Ohio State#

LB Jonathan Freeny, Rutgers*

DB Duron Harmon, Rutgers

OL Ted Karras, Illinois

DB Devin McCourty, Rutgers

LB Rob Ninkovich, Purdue

CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers

DT Vincent Valentine, Nebraska

RB James White, Wisconsin

Atlanta

S Ricardo Allen, Purdue

DT Jonathan Babineaux, Purdue

LB De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota

DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa*

RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana

DL Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota

WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers

DT Joe Vellano, Maryland

# -- Practice squad

* -- Reserve/injured list