There is no official preseason Big Ten poll from the coaches or media, so for the past nine years the Cleveland Plain Dealer has filled the void with its own poll of conference media members.
Nebraska was tabbed as the West Division favorite, but barely. The Huskers received 14 first-place votes, the same number as Iowa, but Nebraska earned the nod with better rankings outside of the top spot. Per Cleveland.com, the Huskers received 11 second-place votes to six for the Hawkeyes.
The rest of the West looked like this (first-place votes): 3. Wisconsin (4), 4. Northwestern (1), 5. Purdue, 6. Minnesota (1), 7. Illinois.
For the first time in four years, there's a new overall favorite in the Big Ten. Michigan led the way in the East with 20 first-place votes. Ohio State, under new head coach Ryan Day, was second with 14 votes to win the division. No other teams in the East received first-place votes. Michigan State edged Penn State for third, followed by Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers in order.
Eight of the 34 media members polled had Michigan beating Nebraska in the Big Ten title game, and four picked Ohio State over the Huskers in Indianapolis. Two people picked Nebraska to win the Big Ten by beating the Wolverines in the conference championship game.
Michigan hasn't won a conference title since 2004, while Nebraska's title drought stretches to 1999.
Now for the bad news (if you're a Michigan or Nebraska fan): While the media correctly tabbed Ohio State as the eventual Big Ten champ in 2017 and 2018, those were the only two times in nine polls that the voters correctly predicted the conference champion.
The Big Ten will release a preseason players to watch list Thursday when media days kick off in Chicago, but the Plain Dealer also conducted a preseason Player of the Year poll. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young took top honors on defense, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor on offense.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez finished fourth in the voting on offense behind Taylor, Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore and Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.