Columbus, Ohio – For the first time in five years, Ohio State football did not enter the season as the Defender of the Big Ten.
Another streak continues, however, as the Buckeyes remain the favorite to regain their crown. Per 36 voters in Cleveland.com’s 12th annual football poll of the season, OSU was the unanimous pick to win both the Eastern Conference and the Conference Championship game in Indianapolis.
Ohio State is the first unanimous preseason favorite since 2015, when it was also selected to win the league as the defensive national champion.
This is the third consecutive season Ohio State has been selected to win the league. It followed in 2020, but a loss to Michigan in the 2021 regular season final ended a four-year career as a champion. Quarterback CJ Stroud was the clear pick for the pre-season offensive player of the year, with receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba finishing second. Four Buckeyes received defensive player votes before the season.
Wisconsin is the favorite to win the West, with 31 first-place votes. Iowa was the second choice unanimously with three first-place votes. Minnesota, which was selected for third place, received other first place votes.
Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year: Iowa midfielder Jack Campbell
Pre-season offensive player of the year: Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud
The Ohio State and Wisconsin favorite teams will play September 24 at Ohio Stadium. She’s visiting Iowa, too, on October 22nd.
Michigan received 25 votes in second place as the favorite to finish the runner-up over the Buckeyes, followed by Pennsylvania.
Cleveland.com took responsibility for organizing the poll when the Big Ten dropped it 12 years ago. The panel included winning writers from 13 of 14 teams from the Big Ten, some of whom cover the entire league or have a national perspective.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a full pre-season poll last week with 181 voters. The Big 12 also released a full poll at the Media Days event. Historically, the ACC also releases a full pre-season poll. For some reason, the Big Ten abdicate for posterity.
Each writer was asked to vote 1-7 in both sections, with first-place votes equaling seven points, second-place votes equaling six points and so on.
1. Wisconsin (31 votes in first place) 246 points
2- Iowa (3) 198
3- Minnesota (2) 162
4- Bordeaux 153
5- Nebraska 123
6- Illinois 65
7. Northwest 61
1- Ohio State (36) 252
2. Michigan 203
3- Pennsylvania 169
4- Michigan State 162
5- Maryland 104
6. Rutgers 60
7- Indiana 58
Big Ten Championship Game
Ohio over Wisconsin (31)
Ohio over Iowa (3)
Ohio over Minnesota (2)
Other survey notes
• There is little consensus behind Wisconsin in the West, with each team receiving a vote to finish in third place.
Iowa got first place votes and seventh place vote. Minnesota was selected to finish anywhere from second to fifth. Bordeaux, Nebraska, and Illinois were all picked up second and down to seventh. Northwestern’s last-place pick took third place in the vote.
• Michigan State, which was named last season, climbed to the top ten nationally and finished third in the division. Spartans got the votes to take second to sixth place in this poll.
• Rutgers was the only Eastern team that did not receive at least one vote to reach fourth place.
• Indiana was ranked third in the East last season after receiving 11 votes in second place. Now it is chosen to repeat the last position.
2021: Select: Ohio State: Actual: Michigan
2020: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Ohio
2019: Choose: Michigan. Actual: Ohio
2018: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Ohio.
2017: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Ohio.
2016: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Pennsylvania.
2015: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Michigan State.
2014: Choose: Michigan State. Actual: Ohio.
2013: Choose: Ohio. Actual: Michigan State.
2012: Choose: Michigan. Actual: Wisconsin.
2011: Choose: Nebraska. Actual: Wisconsin.
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