The Super Bowl is now less than two weeks away. The 49ers and Ravens are set to lock horns (NOTE: Ravens do not have horns) with the Vince Lombardi Trophy at stake. It will be spectacular. It will be stupendous. It will be super.
And it will be B1G.
Yes, this year's Super Bowl promises to remind everybody that Tom Brady is not the only Big Ten alumnus who has ever made it to the NFL. Both teams have several Big Ten players (and there's also a guy who only sort of counts—more on that in a second), and many of these players could make a huge impact in the big game.
Oh, wait, wait. Not "in the big game"..."in the B1G game." Eh? Ehhhh?
At any rate, not all Big Ten alumni on these two rosters are going to be difference-makers and that's okay. If the Ravens win the Super Bowl, it's probably not going to be because former Indiana WR Tandon Doss had the game of his life. But he'll get a ring anyway because that's how these things work. Similarly, don't expect to see 49ers backup QB Scott Tolzien (a former Wisconsin Badger) get a ton of playing time.
Also, Baltimore punter Sam Koch shouldn't even count, right? He went to Nebraska, but he graduated in 2005, so he was never actually a Big Ten player. We're looking for actual alumni of the conference, lest we start giving Jim Delany credit for the pro career of Vernon Davis (Maryland) in a couple years.
That being said, let's look at the five Big Ten alumni who are most likely to have a big impact in the Super Bowl.
5. Bernard Pollard, Ravens S (Purdue)
Pollard has already made his presence felt in the playoffs by concussing Patriots RB Stevan Ridley in the second half of Sunday's game and forcing a fumble. It wasn't a dirty play and didn't draw a flag, but it did just so happen to be the fourth time (via The Inquisitr) Pollard had been involved in a serious injury to a Patriot player.
4. Marshal Yanda, Ravens RG (Iowa)
Yanda made his second straight Pro Bowl this year, though he's missing it for the Super Bowl, which isn't even in Hawaii like the Pro Bowl. Despite this questionable decision-making, Yanda is the anchor of the Baltimore offensive line, and if the Ravens have a big day on the ground, Yanda will be a large factor in it.
3. Donte Whitner, 49ers S (Ohio State)
Like Yanda, Whitner was named to the 2013 Pro Bowl, and he too is skipping it for the Super Bowl. What is it with these guys? At any rate, Whitner averages over five tackles per game and has forced two fumbles on the year, to say nothing of his interception returned for a touchdown against New Orleans in a Week 12 thriller.
2. NaVorro Bowman, 49ers LB (Penn State)
If there's any Big Ten alumnus you'll see more of on the field than Bowman, we'll be shocked; he's a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine who made 149 stops on the year. The success of the third-year linebacker (and, again, a Pro Bowler) is no surprise to Penn State fans, who watched Bowman wreck fools in Happy Valley during his collegiate career.
1. Jim Harbaugh, 49ers head coach (Michigan)
Ah, but nobody's more important than the head coach, and Mr. Harbaugh just so happens to be a Michigan Man. Harbaugh's brother John came from Miami University, so he's not B1G (just MACtive), so Jim gets the edge here. In fact, between Harbaugh's Big Ten bona fides and the increased Big Ten star power on the 49ers sideline, we have to give the Super Bowl nod to San Francisco. Sorry, Baltimore.