Nathan McCarter

All-Big Ten Defensive Team in the BCS Era

Created on Jul. 16, 2014 5:29 AM EST

The BCS was a controversial system, but no one can argue the excitement that it brought on a week-in-week-out basis.

A lot of talent passed through the Big Ten during the BCS era, and we here at have taken it upon ourselves to create an All-Big Ten squad from the BCS era, starting with defense.

Defense has long been a calling card of the conference. Jim Tressel led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS title based primarily on defensive prowess, Penn State is known as Linebacker U, and Michigan State's Rose Bowl season was paced by a defense that took pride in demoralizing offenses all season.

The 4-3 and 3-4 formations are the most common, but with so much depth at linebacker we decided to make our team a 4-4. The only qualification for our team is that players must have played at least two seasons in the BCS era.

There is a plethora of talent to pick from, but without further ado, let's get to the All-Big Ten Defense of the BCS era.

DE: LaMar Woodley (Michigan), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
Second-Team: J.J. Watt (Wisconsin), Courtney Brown (Penn State)

Woodley has been a very productive professional, but his productivity started in Ann Arbor. Woodley's biggest season came in 2006 as he was a unanimous All-American and first-team Big Ten selection. He also won the Lombardi Trophy that season.

Kerrigan was also a unanimous All-American (2010), but also came away with additional hardware in the conference. He took home the Defensive Lineman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year trophies.

The edge rushers created havoc in their college careers. Kerrigan had 32.5 career sacks, while Woodley finished with 22.

Kerrigan and Woodley also represent the only two selections from their schools on the defensive side of the ball. 

DT: DeVon Still (Penn State), Jared Odrick (Penn State)
Second-Team: Michael Haynes (Penn State), Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State)

The interior of the defensive front is dominated by Nittany Lions. Both first-team and second-team selections come from Happy Valley. That speaks to the remarkable job Larry Johnson did as defensive line coach.

Odrick was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and Still replicated those achievements in 2011.

It is amazing to sit back and reflect on the amount of defensive talent Penn State churned out in the BCS era, and yet, the Nittany Lions only appeared in two BCS games: the 2005 Orange Bowl (26-23 three-overtime win over Florida State) and the 2008 Rose Bowl (38-24 loss to USC).

Although other schools produced quality interior linemen, Penn State earns all four spots on our list.

LB: LaVar Arrington (Penn State), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), Paul Posluszny (Penn State), A.J. Hawk (Ohio State)
Second-Team: Dan Connor (Penn State), Greg Jones (Michigan State), Chris Borland (Wisconsin), Julian Peterson (Michigan State)

Penn State and Ohio State split the linebackers.

Paterno was known for his ability to recruit and develop linebackers, but Tressel equaled him during his time in Columbus.

Arrington was a first-team All-American in both 1998 and 1999. He finished his college career by winning the Butkus and Bednarik awards as the top linebacker and top defensive player in the country, respectively, and still left with a year of eligibility remaining.

Among Laurinaitis' hardware is the 2007 Butkus Award. He also collected more awards in that season, but perhaps more impressive is that he was a consensus All-American for three straight seasons (2006-2008).

Posluszny capped off his career with two consensus All-American appearances (2005, 2006) and a Butkus Award of his own. He is also a two-time Bednarik Award winner (2005, 2006). He ended his college career with 336 tackles and nine sacks.

Our final selection was Hawk. The talented Buckeye was a consensus All-American for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and earned the Lombardi Award in 2005 as the nation's top linebacker or lineman. Hawk had 141 total tackles in 2004, but only had 11 in 2005 when he became more of a pass rushing threat. He ended the 2005 season with 10 sacks.

All of the linebacker selections showcase the versatility and athleticism of the talent from the conference. Much of the talent can be seen playing on Sunday at a high level in the NFL. The Big Ten has taken criticism for the top tier talent they have produced, but that cannot be held as true for the linebackers.

CB: Jamar Fletcher (Wisconsin), Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State)
Second-Team: Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Leon Hall (Michigan)

Out of all of the talent to choose from, Fletcher was by far the easiest selection on the defensive side of the ball. He is the best college corner from the conference.

Fletcher was a first-team All-American for the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. He also took home the Jim Thorpe Award in the 2000 season.

Joining Fletcher is Ohio State's Jenkins.

Jenkins was a 2008 consensus All-American and Thorpe Award winner. In the conference, he was a first-team selection from 2006-2008. He helped lead the Buckeyes to back-to-back BCS title game appearances in 2006 and 2007.

S: Mike Doss (Ohio State)
Second-Team: Tyrone Carter (Minnesota

Doss was a three-time first-team All-American (2000-2002) and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He was one of the centerpieces of the 2002 national championship team and was named the MVP for the championship game.

Carter took home the Jim Thorpe Award in 1999 and was a first-team All-American in both 1998 and 1999. He is the career tackles leader at Minnesota with 528.

The safety selections are cream of the crop and would challenge any other conference.

On Deck

Coming up next week, we'll name our selections for the All-Big Ten Offense in the BCS era.

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