|1961 Big Ten Conference football season|
|Number of teams||10|
|Top draft pick||Bob Ferguson|
|Season MVP||Sandy Stephens|
|1961 Big Ten Conference football standings|
|No. 2 Ohio State $||6||–||0||–||0||8||–||0||–||1|
|No. 6 Minnesota||6||–||1||–||0||8||–||2||–||0|
|No. 8 Michigan State||5||–||2||–||0||7||–||2||–||0|
|No. 12 Purdue||4||–||2||–||0||6||–||3||–||0|
Rankings from AP Poll
The 1961 Big Ten Conference football season was the 66th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference and was a part of the 1961 NCAA University Division football season.
The 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes football team, under head coach Woody Hayes, compiled an 8–0–1, won the Big Ten championship, and was recognized as the national champion by the Football Writers Association of America. Fullback Bob Ferguson was a consensus first-team All-American and won the Maxwell Award and the UPI and Sporting News College Football Player of the Year awards.
The 1961 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team, under head coach Murray Warmath, compiled an 8–2, was ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll, and defeated UCLA in the 1962 Rose Bowl. Quarterback Sandy Stephens was a consensus first-team All-American and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award as the Big Ten's most valuable player. As of 2017, Stephens is the most recent Minnesota player to win the award.
Results and team statistics
|Conf. Rank||Team||Head coach||AP final||AP high||Overall record||Conf. record||PPG||PAG||MVP|
|1||Ohio State||Woody Hayes||#2||#2||8–0–1||4–2||24.6||9.2||Bob Ferguson|
|2||Minnesota||Murray Warmath||#6||#3||8–2||6–1||16.8||7.8||Sandy Stephens|
|3||Michigan State||Duffy Daugherty||#8||#1||7–2||5–2||21.3||5.6||George Saimes|
|4||Purdue||Jack Mollenkopf||#12||#7||6–3||4–2||16.2||9.7||Jack Elwell|
|5||Wisconsin||Milt Bruhn||NR||NR||6–4||4–3||19.9||17.6||Ron Miller|
|6||Michigan||Bump Elliott||NR||#6||6–3||3–3||23.6||18.1||John Walker|
|7 (tie)||Iowa||Jerry Burns||NR||#1||5–4||2–4||23.9||18.0||Al Hinton|
|7 (tie)||Northwestern||Ara Parseghian||NR||NR||4–5||2–4||14.6||11.7||Boyd Melvin|
|9||Indiana||Phil Dickens||NR||NR||2–7||0–6||10.7||18.0||Byron Broome|
|10||Illinois||Pete Elliott||NR||NR||0–9||0–7||5.9||32.1||Tony Parrilli|
AP final = Team's rank in the final AP Poll of the 1961 season
AP high = Team's highest rank in the AP Poll throughout the 1961 season
PPG = Average of points scored per game
PAG = Average of points allowed per game
MVP = Most valuable player as voted by players on each team as part of the voting process to determine the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy; trophy winner in bold
On November 20, 1960, hours after the final game of the 1960 season, Iowa announced that Forest Evashevski would be replaced as head football coach by Jerry Burns. Evashevski remained at Iowa as the athletic director. Burns, who signed a three-year contract, had been an assistant coach under Evashevski since 1954 and had played at Michigan from 1947 to 1950.
In the preseason AP Poll, Iowa was ranked No. 1, and Ohio State was No. 2.
There were no changes in the conference's head football coaches between the 1961 and 1962 seasons.
The Big Ten's individual statistical leaders for the 1961 season include the following:
|5||Pete Smith||Michigan State||630|
|1||Bob Ferguson||Ohio State||938|
|4||Chuck Bryant||Ohio State||270|
|5||Lonnie Sanders||Michigan State||247|
|5||Bob Ferguson||Ohio State||938|
|1||Bob Ferguson||Ohio State||66|
|2||George Saimes||Michigan State||48|
Awards and honors
All-Big Ten honors
|Quarterback||Sandy Stephens||Minnesota||AP, UPI|
|Halfback||Bennie McRae||Michigan||AP, UPI|
|Halfback||George Saimes||Michigan State||AP, UPI|
|Fullback||Bob Ferguson||Ohio State||AP, UPI|
|End||Pat Richter||Wisconsin||AP, UPI|
|Tackle||Bobby Bell||Minnesota||AP, UPI|
|Tackle||Dave Behrman||Michigan State||AP|
|Guard||Mike Ingram||Ohio State||AP, UPI|
|Center||Larry Onesti||Northwestern||AP, UPI|
|Fullback||Bob Ferguson||Ohio State||AFCA, AP, FWAA, NEA, TSN, UPI, CP, Time, WCFF|
|Quarterback||Sandy Stephens||Minnesota||AP, FWAA, NEA, SN, UPI, WCFF|
Other Big Ten players who were named first-team All-Americans by at least one selector were:
|Tackle||Bobby Bell||Minnesota||AFCA, FWAA, TSN, CP|
|Guard||Dave Behrman||Michigan State||AP, FWAA|
|Center||Bill Van Buren||Iowa||TSN, CP|
Ohio State fullback Bob Ferguson won the Maxwell Award and the UPI and Sporting News College Football Player of the Year awards. He finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy behind Ernie Davis.
1962 NFL Draft
|Bob Ferguson||Back||Ohio State||1||5|
|Chuck Bryant||End||Ohio State||3||34|
|Bill Tunnicliff||Running Back||Michigan||5||63|
|Sam Tidmore||End||Ohio State||6||81|
|John Havlicek||Wide Receiver||Ohio State||7||95|
|Ron Hatcher||Running back||Michigan State||8||99|
- "1961 Big Ten Conference Year Summary". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 9, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Stephens Voted Big 10 Most Valuable: Minnesota Quarterback Beats Bob Ferguson By 2 Votes; Ron Miller Is 3rd". Chicago Tribune. December 17, 1961. p. 2-1.
- "Jerry Burns Becomes Head Coach at Iowa". Lincoln Journal and Star. November 20, 1960. p. 36.
- "2014 NCAA Football Records: Consensus All-America Selections" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2014. pp. 5–6. Retrieved February 1, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "1961 Heisman Trophy Voting". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 17, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "1962 NFL Draft: Full Draft". NFL.com. National Football League. Retrieved January 13, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)