Nebraska Picked to Win B1G Title, Denard Preseason OPOY

Submitted by MGoShoe on July 25th, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Perhaps you've heard that the Big Ten Conference has decided that it won't conduct preseason conference championship and player of the year polls for announcement at the upcoming Big Ten media days. To fill the gap, the Cleveland Plain Dealer conducted the first Plain Dealer Big Ten Preseason Newspaper Poll.

[T]he Plain Dealer organized 24 daily beat writers, two that cover each of the 12 teams in the league, to rank the predicted order of finish in the divisions, pick a title game winner, name preseason offensive and defensive players of the year and pick not a coach of the year, but just the best coach in the Big Ten. The preseason players of the year and best coach voting will be revealed on later today.

The results.

* First-place votes in parentheses; voting on 6-5-4-3-2-1 point system

Legends Division:

1. Nebraska (19) 139
2. Michigan State (4) 118
3. Iowa   82
4. Michigan (1)  71
5. Northwestern  69
6. Minnesota  25

Leaders Division:

1. Wisconsin (22) 141
2. Ohio State (1) 113
3. Penn State (1) 95
4. Illinois  76
5. Purdue  52
6. Indiana  27

Conference Champion:

Nebraska 12, Wisconsin 11, Michigan State 1

Title game matchup predictions:
Nebraska over Wisconsin (10)
Wisconsin over Nebraska (7)
Wisconsin over Michigan State (3)
Nebraska over Ohio State (1)
Nebraska over Penn State (1)
Wisconsin over Michigan (1)
Michigan State over Wisconsin (1)

I for one have a hard time believing that Nebraska will take the Big Ten by storm. We'll see.

Denard's OPOY selection is wholly expected. Mike Martin finishes 8th in DPOY voting.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick were named the Big Ten preseason players of the year in the Plain Dealer Big Ten Preseason Newspaper Poll.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (first-place votes in parentheses)
* Voting on 3-2-1 point system, with voters picking top three

1. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (14)   52
2. Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern (4)   26
3. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State (2)   18
4. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State (1)   16
5. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (1)   14
6. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (2)   9
7. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska   4
8. James White, RB, Wisconsin    2
9. Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State    2
10. Derek Moye, WR, Penn State    1

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (first-place votes in parentheses)
* Voting on 3-2-1 point system, with voters picking top three

1. Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska (15)  58
2. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska (7)  37
3. Jerel Worthy, DL, Michigan State  10
4. Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa (1)   8
5. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska (1)  7
6. John Simon, DL, Ohio State   6
7. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State   5
8. Mike Martin, DL, Michigan   3
9. Nathan Williams, DL, Ohio State  2



July 25th, 2011 at 1:34 PM ^

I'd take Wisconsin over Nebraska, especially if Martinez keeps f'ing his ankle up and Wisconsin finds the QB they're looking for to replace Tolzien.

Also I'm surprised how high everyone is on MSU. Aren't both of their lines pretty unknown commodities at this point?


July 25th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Yes, MSU's offensive line is very unknown and questionable.  I thought that their D-Line was supposed to be somewhat stout though?  Their entire defense should be pretty young and questionably talented.  I, for one, cannot wait for Hoke to start the revenge tour by putting Sparty back in their place in EL!


July 25th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

MSU has moved two guys from d-line to o-line, and both are in the running to start---France at LT and Treadwell at center.  It also has a redshirt freshman pencilled in at RT, though there's more reason to think he can play.  That said, Nebraska's offensive line doesn't look much better on paper, so it'll be a great test about the maxim about how important the offensive line is.  

MSU's d-line is going to be at least solid and could be very good depending on how well Gholston and Hoover play.

Darth Wolverine

July 25th, 2011 at 1:36 PM ^

I think Nebraska is definitely the clear favorite to win with Sparty a distant second; although I would not be surprise to see Sparty fall flat on their face this season. They have a much more difficult schedule than last year.


We are still going to beat them though. I simply CANNOT see Michigan's losing to Sparty four years in a row. Three was enough of a shocker, but if they make it four, I will be a very upset Wolverine.


July 25th, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

Three was enough of a shocker?  For me, two in a row was shocking enough.  Before RichRod, it had not happened since the mid 1960's. 

And this year, we're most likely the underdog to them for the 4th straight year, when they were the underdog to us for 37 straight years. 

The world has got to get back on it's axis with Sparty. 


July 25th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

I'm taking Wiscy over the new comers in the title game especially if Wilson is as good as he was at NC State.  I'm not that confident in state since I feel like their record was inflated since they caught both ND and Wisconsin early in the season when both teams got better as the season went on last year and they missed OSU. but we'll see what happens.


July 25th, 2011 at 1:44 PM ^

Overall, I would agree with the predictions for the Leaders division. And honestly, after Wiscy, OSU, and PSU, the order of the other three teams doesn't really matter. That division seems really top-heavy.

For our division, I don't think MSU will finish that high, and I really think MSU, NW, and Iowa are all pretty interchangable. I think we have a really good shot at taking the division, especially if we do well in our NCS*. Here's how I would rank the Legends division:

  1. Nebraska/UM
  2. Nebraska/UM
  3. MSU/Iowa/NU
  4. MSU/Iowa/NU
  5. MSU/Iowa/NU
  6. Minny

*I know the NCS has no bearing on how a team finishes in conference rankings; I made that point because doing well in the NCS would give us a lot of positive momentum heading into the conference schedule... not that that has meant much in the past few years, but here's to hoping that Brady Hoke is out to set things straight in every aspect.


July 25th, 2011 at 5:02 PM ^

I'm sorry, but this is homerism.  MSU is coming off a 7-1 season, its program firmly in place.  We're coming off 3-5 and have a new coaching staff.  It's possible that we could finish ahead of them, but it's not something I'd predict right now.  We haven't come close to competing with the big boys in the conference lately.


July 25th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

The predictions seem reasonable.

Michigan is on the up and up, but I have a hard time seeing us win the division given our starting point on defense and a brand new offensive system.  Ohio State is on the decline, but they will still be formidable until there's more evidence to the contrary.  State is not going to be able to scratch off another winning lottery ticket.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Penn State or Iowa be strong contenders, but more than one team should be able to find a chink in their armor to exploit.

D.C. Dave

July 25th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

To me, that's the most questionable prediction in our division. It basically is saying the writers don't think much of Michigan and Northwestern if they think Iowa, with all the players they lost, will grab third. I think it is a down year for the Hawkeyes and have them just ahead of Minnesota, though they'll finish ahead of Northwestern if Persa goes down again. He's the entire Wildcat offense and it's not so easy coming back from an Achilles tear.


July 25th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

I'd like to think that the beat writers are correct and my dear old NU will win it all in our first year, but I don't see it. It's not even so much the difficulty of the schedule, but the fact that every league game is a new opponent - someone the team's never prepared for. That intense level of preparation that NU will have to go through the first couple of times through the league is going to lead to more than one supposed upset.

Combine that with Martinez's shaky ankle, our recent inability to score offensive points, the above average difficulty of the slate, and the general bloody-mindedness of it all, and I think the odds of a division title for Nebraska is 50/50, tops.


July 25th, 2011 at 7:56 PM ^

You're right that 50/50 is too high - I was scaling back from the ~80% chance that's implied by the voting results without really thinking about the number that I ended up throwing out. Without all that much more thought, I'd thumbnail the real odds of Nebraska winning the division at around 2.5 or 3 to 1. Still the favorites, but the smart money's on the field.


July 25th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

I work with 6 Nebraska alumn, one of which is a former Herbie Husker. All cool, very dedicated fans that I really enjoy talking football with. I just can't talk to MSU or OSU people and it's not me. Wisky is only barely tolerable. 

The B1G season is going to killer this year, I'm glad Nebraska joined.


July 25th, 2011 at 1:55 PM ^

Nebraska I'm sure will be the toughest game for Michigan in the Legends division, but at least we have them at home AND they'll be new to the league. MSU, Iowa, and Northwestern will all be tough. Especially MSU. 


July 25th, 2011 at 2:33 PM ^

winning Leaders seems like a no brainer. I'd say our division is really a toss up with only Minnesota having no chance. If I had to pick one team though, I guess it would be Nebraska. Their defense should be the best in the league.


July 25th, 2011 at 2:39 PM ^

I wouldn't count Michigan out. Even with the change in offensive philosphy we're still going to score 30+ a game. Why? Utilization of tight ends and fullbacks will make Denard even more potent given a ball control emphasis. Great receivers again, and I think the running game (non-DR) will be vastly improved. Also, splitting time win Devin will help DR trememdously down the stretch.

The defense will improve under Mattison and they have better talent. I think Mike Martin goes off and the secondary improves. Additionally, controlling the ball (clock) makes the defense better. 

By the time B1G season rolls around UM will be humming. Predict = 1-2 losses in the B1G at most next year, 10-2 or 9-3 (at worst) overall. 

Yes, the division is stacked but I also think some teams will take a step back.

Nebraska's offense blows.

MSU lost too much on defense. 

Iowa lost everybody, will be a big down year for them.

NW has no depth, not a lot of talent anyways.

Ohio State (Tressell)  "on November 26th, we're going to kick their ass". Payback time bitch.

Of course I could be completely talking out of my a$$, probably, but I think I'm making some sense. There's a tendency for caution when predicting UMs upcoming season for obvious reasons, but somebody has to be a homer. 


July 25th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

"I for one have a hard time believing that Nebraska will take the Big Ten by storm. We'll see."

Totally agree. See Penn State... on the verge of dominating the conference since 1993.  Did we beat them something like 9 years in a row?

Once Nebraska loses exposure in Texas and OK it is goint to have some recruiting holes to fill and will take a step back.  They also have no clue what their offense is.  If they do well I would be surprised; however better the than Sparty. 


July 25th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

State fans fully expect their defense to dominate despite losing 2 4-year starters (including an All America).  Some of them don't expect a major decline in production at that spot.  It baffles my mind, but I've read it countless times on their board. 

Their DLine is their strongest position.  Jerel Worthy is supposed to be pretty damn good.

Despite that, MSU's season hinges on their offensive line.  They're replacing 3 starters.  One of the presumable replacements is a JUCO transfer and the other is former coach Don Treadwell's son who is switching from DL to OL.  If Cousins has time he'll be able to complete his passes.  If he has to rush his throws due to pressure, he'll make mistakes.  Not surprisingly, I'm rooting for the latter.


July 25th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

Cousins is underrated around here.  People make him out to be a statue and turnover machine.  He's had the occasional bad game but in general, his decision-making is very good and he has good poise.  He did not have very good OL protection last year, and he still got rid of the ball quickly and on target.  I expect him to have another fine season passing the ball.  Where their OL youth might hurt them more is in the ground game. 


Tha Stunna

July 25th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

Michigan is as likely to make the conference title game as Ohio State or Penn State?  When did this happen?  Also, when did all three of these teams end up outside of the top three in the conference?


July 25th, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

I have a had time believing msu will have a 0.500 record or better in the big ten this season. They are replacing the majority of their o-line. Cousins will be running for his life.


July 25th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

Kinda strange that Nebraska gets so much love to win the conference, but then Martinez is only picked 7th for OPOY, right?

I agree with Nebraska as the pick but don't think it should be near-unanimous, as Wisconsin should challenge. 

Martinez should also be higher.. probably 2nd or 3rd.  Denard 1 obvs. 


July 25th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

Martinez reminds me of Tate so much it's scary. Fast start, terrible finish, nutty dad, quick-developing attitude issues, etc.

Look for news of his rejected transfer attempt to Louisiana-Monroe next summer.




July 25th, 2011 at 5:08 PM ^

its going to be like iowa 2009 -> 2010. MSU got a really lucky several times and then theyre losing a bunch of talent. I think theyre going to be a 7-5 team +/-1 win


July 25th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

Color me confused at why big things are being predicted for Nebraska. Yes, they will probably have a good defense. But Martinez looked brutal at season's end, not just as a player but as a leader, and they somehow found a way to lose to that garbage UW squad in their bowl. Momentum would appear to be low in Lincoln, not high.




July 25th, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

Not much of a long shot?   We haven't posted a winning conference record in four years, and have an entirely new offense and defense this year.  In the first year of a coach's tenure, fans should have guarded expectations.  In year two you can start to expect bigger things.