Will a Big Ten alum walk away Super Bowl MVP?

Will a Big Ten alum walk away Super Bowl MVP?
January 30, 2014, 7:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

It's been a while since a Big Ten player won the Heisman Trophy, but at the next level, the awards are a little more frequent.

Five different Big Ten alumni have won six different Super Bowl MVP awards since 1970, with four of them coming since 2002.

So with Super Bowl XLVIII on tap for Sunday, the question becomes: Can the Big Ten grab another individual honor?

The chances are good. After all, one of the game's quarterbacks is a Big Ten alum: Seattle's Russell Wilson, who claims Wisconsin as his alma mater after playing his senior season with the Badgers in 2011. Quarterbacks have won 26 of the 48 Super Bowl MVPs handed out (there were co-MVPs in Super Bowl XII, for those realizing that total number doesn't mesh with the roman numerals), making the chances pretty good that either Wilson or his opponent, Peyton Manning, will be named the game's most valuable player.

[MORE: Report: Ex-Gophers QB Philip Nelson transferring to Rutgers]

If Wilson were to grab the award, he'd be the third different ex-Big Ten QB to do it, joining Purdue's Len Dawson (Super Bowl IV), Michigan's Tom Brady (Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII) and Purdue's Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV).

But there's the other side of the field, too, that has some potential MVP candidates who hail from Big Ten schools. Ex-Minnesota wideout Eric Decker and former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball both suit up for the Broncos, and both are featured in Denver's potent offense. Decker is one of Manning's favorite targets, catching 87 passes this season and scoring 11 touchdowns. And while Ball has to jockey for carries with other Bronco running backs, a few potential trips to the end zone could net him the MVP.

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Were he to win, Decker would join former Ohio State wideout Santonio Holmes as ex-Big Ten pass-catchers to be named the Super Bowl MVP. If it was Ball, he'd become the first former Big Ten running back to be named MVP of the big game. Franco Harris, who was the MVP of Super Bowl IX, was a running back at Penn State, but he played for the Nittany Lions prior to their joining the Big Ten.

The only Big Ten product to win Super Bowl MVP we haven't named yet? That's former Michigan Heisman winner Desmond Howard, who won it as a return man in Super Bowl XXXI.

Will Sunday's game produce another MVP from a Big Ten school?