Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big Ten Leans Eastgoing into Season; Ohio State Leads Talent-Heavy Division

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big Ten Leans Eastgoing into Season; Ohio State Leads Talent-Heavy Division

Article excerpt

As voted upon by 40 media members and compiled by Cleveland.com

EAST DIVISION

Rank, team/Points

1. Ohio Stte (40)/280

2. Michigan State/240

3. Penn State/186.5

4. Michigan/163.5

5. Maryland/95.5

6. Rutgers/78

7. Indiana/76.5

WEST DIVISION

Rank, team/Points

1. Wisconsin (32)/272

2. Nebraska (5)/231.5

3. Minnesota (3)/197

4. Iowa/158.5

5. Northwestern/125

6. Illinois/77

7. Purdue/59

First-place votes in parenthesis

The Big Ten East's a beast. Ohio State is loaded with returning talent and is the popular pick to return to the College Football Playoffs to defend its national title.

Michigan State has won 24 games the past two seasons and four straight bowls. Jim Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor shows Michigan is serious about making a quick resurgence, and Penn State looks to be on the rise under James Franklin.

Harbaugh's Wolverines are a recruiting cycle or two away from contending in the East. Penn State and Rutgers are coming off bowl wins, Maryland will have a new quarterback and defensive coordinator after a solid Big Ten debut season, and Indiana will be looking to move up with QB Nate Sudfeld's (shoulder injury).

The West, meanwhile, is in catch-up mode after Ohio State hammered Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten championship. Wisconsin and Nebraska have new coaches, Illinois fired its coach, Tim Beckman, on Friday. Minnesota is out to prove it is better than an eight-win program, and Iowa is coming off losses in five of its last seven.

The Big Ten raised its profile last year. Ohio State won the conference's first national title since 2002, and the league was 6- 4 in the postseason, with three teams in the top 13 for the final polls.

"There is good energy," Commissioner Jim Delany said, "and we're glad to be in the conversation."

The Buckeyes are 24-0 in Big Ten regular-season games in three years under Urban Meyer. Their only loss to a conference team was the 2013 Big Ten title game to Michigan State. …

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