With Big Ten football media days set to kickoff (that’s a football term) on Tuesday, the twelfth annual Cleveland.com preseason Big Ten football poll was released on Monday morning signaling the start of college football season in the midwest. In what I’m sure you’ll find very surprising, the Ohio State Buckeyes are unanimously predicted to win the East and the conference in 2022.
Who will be the lamb led to slaughter against the Bucks in Indianapolis? Why, none other than your Wisconsin Badgers! Here are the voting results:
1. Wisconsin (31 first-place votes) 246 points
2. Iowa (3) 198
3. Minnesota (2) 162
4. Purdue 153
5. Nebraska 123
6. Illinois 65
7. Northwestern 61
1. Ohio State (36) 252
2. Michigan 203
3. Penn State 169
4. Michigan State 162
5. Maryland 104
6. Rutgers 60
7. Indiana 58
The Buckeyes have been the preseason favorite to win the conference in six of the last seven years, but have only (lmao) ended up winning the Big Ten in four of those years. This is also the first time there has been a unanimous preseason B1G champ since 2015 when OSU was coming off of a national title. Definitely worth noting that Michigan State, not Ohio State, won the Big Ten in 2015. Hilariously, the media picked Nebraska to win the Big Ten in 2011, who ended up losing their first ever Big Ten game in embarrassing fashion to Wisconsin on national TV while limping to third in their division. The Badgers, on the other hand, won the conference.
Enough with the trip down memory lane, let’s get back to this season. According to the Cleveland.com post, the West division is a real free-for-all behind the Badgers this year:
Iowa received first-place votes and a seventh-place vote. Minnesota was picked to finish anywhere from second through fifth. Purdue, Nebraska and Illinois were all picked as high as second and as low as seventh. Last-place pick Northwestern received a third-place vote.
THIRD PLACE NORTHWESTERN!?!? I demand to see whose ballot that was! Northwestern will be lucky to be the third best team in the state of Illinois this year!
The media members also voted on the top defensive and offensive players in the conference, with Iowa LB Jack Campbell and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud tabbed as the top two players in the Big Ten. The defensive vote was close, and 15 different players received at least one vote, and Wisconsin LB Nick Herbig came in second place:
1. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (20 first-place votes) 74
2. Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin (10) 55
3. Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State (4) 26
4. Riley Moss, CB, Iowa (1) 20
5. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State 8
Rutgers punter Adam Korsak received one vote for defensive player of the year and, you know what, I respect that. He IS the best defensive player for the Scarlet Knights.
On the other side of the ball, things were...less close. Stroud ran away with the top spot and his No. 1 wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba came in second, taking two first place votes and preventing Stroud from being the unanimous offensive player of the year. Badgers RB Braelon Allen finished third:
1. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (32 first-place votes) 101 points
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (2) 42
3. Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin 37
4. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan 8
5. Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue 7
We’ll be continuing our preseason coverage of the Badgers this week with more opponent previews and positional rankings. We’ll also have posts up about Big Ten Media Day and anything interesting (haha, ok) that Paul Chryst and crew might say.