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NCAA Football

Michigan is the Favorite in Big Ten Preseason Poll

It’s not official – but then again what preseason poll is – but Michigan has been selected by 24 members of the Big Ten media as the favorite to win the 2012 Big Ten title.

The conference did away with its conference sponsored preseason poll two seasons ago, but since then an informal poll has been organized with two writers covering each team submitting votes.

Here are the results as the Big Ten gets ready for its media days set for Thursday and Friday in Chicago.

Favorite to Win Conference Championship Game: Michigan (11 votes)

Offensive Player of the Year:  Montee Ball

Defensive Player of the Year: William Gholston

 Rank Legends Division
1 Michigan (16)
2 Michigan State (7)
3 Nebraska (1)
4 Iowa
5 Northwestern
6 Minnesota
 Rank Leaders Division
1 Wisconsin (19)
2 Ohio State (5)
3 Purdue
4 Illinois
5 Penn State
6 Indiana

 

It’s tough to argue with either of the player of the year candidates.  Ball is coming off a year in which he ran for over 1900 yards and scored a whopping 33 rushing touchdowns while adding another six scores through the air.

Gholston hasn’t received all the accolades that Ball has but that could change this season.  He led Michigan State’s defensive lineman with 70 tackles last season which included 16 tackles-for-loss.  He’ll anchor what could very well turn out to be the best defense in the Big Ten this season.  If you have a chance to watch the Spartans this season, make sure to keep an eye on number two because he’s beast on the field.

As for the division rankings, it’s no shocker to see Wisconsin as the favorite in the Leaders Division.  Considering Ohio State and Penn State aren’t eligible for postseason play in 2012, it’s probably a forgone conclusion the Badgers will return to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten title for the second straight season.

On the other side, the Legends Division race is where all the excitement is going to happen.  Michigan, Nebraska, and Michigan State are all more than capable of winning the division if not the title.  Michigan should sport the best offense in the league, Michigan State the best defense, and Nebraska has a little bit of both.

I’d give Michigan the nod as the favorite, as well, simply based on the schedule.  Their cross-divisions game include Purdue and Illinois while Nebraska and Michigan State have to play both Wisconsin and Ohio State. Michigan also has to play Ohio State but the Wolverines avoid having to play Wisconsin during the regular season.

What do you say?  Do you agree with the guys covering the league for a living?