Wisconsin, Minnesota the favorites to win Big Ten West

It’s still very much up in the air as to whether the Big Ten will play football this fall but that didn’t stop members of the media voting on which teams will win the conference.

In a poll put together annually by Cleveland.com, voters chose Ohio State nearly unanimously to win its fourth-straight Big Ten title. Of the 34 member members to vote, 33 picked the Buckeyes to win the conference. Penn State earned the other vote. The votes were the same for the East Division.

On the West, though, there was more uncertainty. Wisconsin, which has won the division four of the six years it has existed, were chosen to repeat by 19 of the voters. Coach Paul Chryst’s team was either first or second on all but two ballots.

Minnesota, which tied the Badgers for first a year ago, got 13 first-place votes, while one media member picked Northwestern to win the division. Overall, the Wildcats were picked to finish sixth.

Voters also chose preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year and both were easy picks.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields received 33 of the 34 first-place votes after winning the actual OPOY award last season in leading the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons was the runaway pick on the defensive side of the ball, garnering all 34 first-place votes. Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn finished eighth, while safety Eric Burrell was 11th.

What the actual season looks like is unclear. The Big Ten announced it was going to a conference-only schedule earlier in July as a result of the uncertainty related to COVID-19. The league will release an amended schedule soon and it’s expected to include 10 conference games.

Here are the full voting totals for the season predictions and the conference awards via Cleveland.com:

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State 237 points (33 first-place votes)

2. Penn State 204 points (1)

3. Michigan 169 points

4. Indiana 134 points

5. Michigan State 94 points

6. Maryland 76 points

7. Rutgers 38 points

Big Ten West

1. Wisconsin 221 points (19)

2. Minnesota 209.5 (14)

3. Iowa 157 points

4. Nebraska 117 points

5. Purdue 105 points

6. Northwestern 87.5 points (1)

7. Illinois 55 points

Title game predictions:

Ohio State over Wisconsin (19)

Ohio State over Minnesota (13)

Ohio State over Northwestern (1)

Penn State over Minnesota (1)

Offensive Player of the Year

1. Justin Fields, Ohio State QB, 101 points (33 first-place votes)

2. Rondale Moore, Purdue WR, 38 points

3. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota WR, 33 points (1)

4. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota QB, 16 points

5. Journey Brown, Penn State RB, 4 points

5. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State TE, 4 points

7. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State OG, 2 points

8. David Bell, Purdue WR, 1 point

8. Alaric Jackson, Iowa OT, 1 point

8. Josh Myers, Ohio State C, 1 point

8. Chris Olave, Ohio State WR, 1 point

8. Michael Penix, Indiana QB, 1 point

8. Trey Sermon, Ohio State RB, 1 point

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Micah Parsons, Penn State LB, 102 points (34 first-place votes)

2. Shaun Wade, Ohio State CB, 33 points

3. George Karlaftis, Purdue DE, 20 points

4. Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB, 17 points

5. Kwity Paye, Michigan DL, 11 points

6. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan DL, 6 points

7. Zach Harrison, Ohio State DE, 3 points

8. Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin LB, 2 points

8. Antjuan Simmons, Michigan LB, 2 points

8. Ambry Thomas, Michigan DB, 2 points

11. Eric Burrell, Wisconsin S, 1 point

11. Tyshon Fogg, Rutgers LB, 1 point

11. Dax Hill, Michigan S, 1 point