Including the Big Ten, which, although it has been up for pre-season media poll in recent years, still gives us a look at what to expect at the conference.
That’s thanks to Cleveland.com, who picked up the mantle and asked members of the media to rank where they expect the Big Ten teams to finish this next year.
Let’s take a look at the updated media rankings for the Big Ten football season.
First place votes are in parentheses
Big Ten West
7. Northwest. Two years ago, the Wildcats played for the Big Ten title. A year ago, they won one game in the conference and scored no more than 14 points in the second half of the season.
6. Illinois. Bret Bielema returns in the second year with a foul that failed to break 20 ppg and made the third worst defense on the record. But he got quarterback Tommy DeVito, who arrived from Syracuse with a big arm.
5. Nebraska. There’s not much hope for the Cornhuskers, who lost all nine games last fall in singles digits. Scott Frost has become aggressive this season, bringing offensive caller Mark Whipple from Pete and a strong transfer class.
4. Bordeaux. David Bell, the first recipient, as well as the next man from Milton Wright, passed away after being judged to be academically ineligible. Aidan O’Connell is back in the middle as one of the strongest passers in the Big Ten, good for 72% of his throws and hasn’t had a turn in seven games.
3. Minnesota (2). Full-back Mo Ibrahim has returned from injury along with quarterback Tanner Morgan, and both team up with attacking player Kirk Ciaruka. This team has some decent peripheral speed to exploit if they can work to protect it up front.
2. Iowa (3). This team often has defense to take its place – like last season when the Hawkeyes were in the top five in the AP poll and appear headed for the College Football Playoff – but patching together is still a constant attacking threat in midfield.
1. Wisconsin (31). There are a few gaps to fill in what last fall was the top-ranked defense in college football, but there is still plenty to work with, as well as youngster Brylon Allen, who may indeed be one of the best defenders in the country. But what can the Badgers get out of quarterback Graham Mertz? So far, not much.
Big Ten East
7. Indiana. The Hoosiers moment really seems to have passed after their magical run of 2020, losing quarterback Michael Bencks and main receiver Ty Fryfogle. IU brought in the transfer of QB Connor Bazelak from Missouri, but she placed less than 11 ppg in the Big Ten games and allowed over 35, not equal to success.
6. Rutgers. The third-worst offense in the Big Ten was good for only about 19 points each time last fall, while conceding about 25 points per game to opponents, and needs to dramatically improve her physicality in both scrimmage streaks.
5. Maryland. The Terps should be putting in some good numbers after scoring the fourth-best attack in the Big Ten a year ago, retaining center back Taulia Tagovailoa and adding Florida transfer WR Jacob Copeland to pair with Dontay Demus.
4. Michigan State. Payton Thorne returns under center along with 1,000-yard receiver Jayden Reed, but returning power Kenneth Walker was the driver of this offense. We’ll see if Sparty can recover from their loss, and what they can do with one of the worst passing defenses in college football.
3. Pennsylvania. Sean Clifford is back in QB and will have a WKU transfer wide, Mitchell Tinsley, who had over 1,400 yards and 14 TDs last fall in a record-breaking attack, but this team must rebuild their rushing attack to balance things out.
2. Michigan. No first place vote for Wolverines after winning the Big Ten and making a College Football game a year ago. There are some notable losses, especially when rushing to the edge, but there is plenty of offensive skill to keep this team in contention.
1. Ohio State (36). No surprises here as the Buckeyes retain their number one attacking core in college football, led by the quarterback who reached the Heisman Final, but Jim Knowles needs to tighten the noose defensively before we can say OSU is back in being an accessory team.
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