By Marc Morehouse, The Gazette
Big Ten media days began Monday. UPS is at the front door with college football.
It?s prediction time. And in the Big Ten in 2018, you probably have a pretty good idea how that went.
Yes, Ohio State. Yes, Wisconsin.
In preseason balloting conducted by cleveland.com of 28 writers from around the Big Ten, Ohio State was picked by 14 voters to win the league this season, while Wisconsin received 13 votes. Michigan State picked up the final vote.
This is the eighth year of our preseason poll, which was started when the Big Ten stopped conducting its own vote of media members, the only power conference to skip that. The Big Ten will release only a list of players to watch when players, coaches, media and fans gather in Chicago for two days of preseason hype on Monday and Tuesday.
Not since seven years ago has the vote been this close.
That says a lot about Wisconsin 2018.
The Badgers were a unanimous choice to win the West after running through an undefeated regular season a year ago. The Badgers received all 28 first-place votes, while Iowa was a clear choice to finish second in the West.
In the East, Ohio State received 23.5 first-place votes, with one voter picking Ohio State and Michigan to tie for first. Michigan State got two first-place votes, Penn State got one and Michigan earned 1.5. The result was basically a three-way tie for second, as the Spartans, Nittany Lions and Wolverines were separated by 1.5 points.
Here are the full predicted standings, with a first-place vote counting for seven points, down to a seventh-place vote earning one point.
The media also voted on the three top offensive and defensive players in the league.
Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa was the clear choice as the 2018 Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year, while Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley nosed out Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor for the offensive honor.
A junior who projects as a top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Bosa made first-team All-Big Ten last year as a sophomore when he wasn?t even a starter on Ohio State?s deep defensive line. This season, he?s expected to play more snaps and build on his 8.5 sacks, which ranked second in the conference.
Bosa beat out Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush to win the preseason vote. Those three were also first-team All-Big Ten picks last year.
McSorley, the second-team All-Big Ten quarterback a year ago behind J.T. Barrett, received 14 of 28 first-place votes to beat out Taylor, who led the conference in rushing last season as a freshman. He gained 1,977 yards on the ground and was a first-team all-conference pick. Ohio State running back JK Dobbins, also a freshman last year, was the clear choice for third place.
BIG TEN EAST
1. Ohio State, 191.5 points (23.5 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 142 points (2)
3. Penn State, 141.5 points (1)
4. Michigan, 140.5 points (1.5)
5. Maryland, 75.5 points
6. Indiana, 60 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points
BIG TEN WEST
1. Wisconsin, 196 points (28 first-place votes)
2. Iowa, 155 points
3. Northwestern, 138 points
4. Nebraska, 104 points
5. Purdue, 98.5 points
6. Minnesota, 64.5 points
7. Illinois, 28 points
* The bottom was nearly as clear as the top. Illinois was picked last in the West by every voter, while Rutgers received 23 of 28 last-place votes in the East.
* Among second-place votes in the East, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan each received eight, while Ohio State had four second-place votes. No voter picked Ohio State lower than second.
* Northwestern and Nebraska had the widest range, with each team receiving votes for second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the West.
So while Wisconsin was the clearer favorite in the division, the Buckeyes held the one-vote lead when it came to championship predictions. Here was the breakdown of the full predictions for the Big Ten Championship game.