Lots of Big Ten teams got upset earlier this season, but one of the most surprising was Northwestern’s 39-34 loss to Akron.
Northwestern was a 21-point favorite. They led 21-3 at halftime, had twice as many first downs, and Akron recorded a whopping 15 penalties for 140 yards. You usually win those games!
But Northwestern didn’t. Akron roared back for 36 second half points, 21 of them defensive, to pull off the massive upset. And if you’re a Zips fan, you were thrilled! Upsets like that don’t come around very often.
And then it got even better, because Northwestern went on to clinch the Big Ten West championship.
The last time Akron beat a Big Ten team was 1894, when they knocked off Ohio State.
Well, sort of.
First, Akron wasn’t Akron in 1894.
It was Buchtel College, a Unitarian institution. It didn’t become a public school until 1913.
Also, the Big Ten wasn’t invented yet.
What would eventually become known as the Big Ten wasn’t founded until 1896, two years later. They called it the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, which seems like a silly name, until you remember that these people eventually thought Leaders and Legends would make swell division names.
Also, if the Big Ten did exist, Ohio State wouldn’t have been part of it, because Ohio State sucked.
That 1894 squad also lost to Whittenberg twice, to Case AND Western Reserve (they were different schools back then), and only finished above .500 because they beat something called Columbus Barracks. They were not a major program by any means, and wouldn’t join the Big Ten until 1912.
Also, this wasn’t just any ol’ Big Ten win, thanks to Northwestern’s division title.
2018 Northwestern has four losses and isn’t anything special as far as advanced stats are concerned, but they’ve won every game they’ve played against Big Ten West opponents, and thanks to Minnesota clobbering Purdue, the Wildcats clinched an unlikely division title.
In a year when Pitt wins a division title, and schools like Arizona State and Washington might as well, sure, why can’t a team that lost to Akron win a Big Ten division title?
Let’s check out this newspaper report from Akron’s win over Ohio State:
Guys, this is like, the perfect old timey football bingo.
Hilariously biased newspaper headline? Check. A prize of ten footballs for winning a game? Check. Complaints about the integrity of another game due to cheating from an Ivy League school? Check. It’s perfect.
But yeah, congrats to Akron, for beating a Big Ten* school for the first time since oh, the Russo-Japanese War. Or the Spanish American War. Or before Utah became a state. Or before William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan. Or the first time since they started bottling Coke. Or, in Pat Fitzgerald-relevant terms, since before the Russian Revolution.