For the last four years cleveland.com and the Cleveland Plain Dealer have organized a straw poll among several of the beat writers for each team, ever since the Big Ten stopped conducting a media poll of its own. There are a total of 29 voters -- two for every team except Maryland who only has one representative (get it together, turtles!), plus two league-wide representatives (ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and college football preview guru Phil Steele) -- this year, up from 26 a year ago. (The Gazette's Marc Morehouse and Scott Dochterman are Iowa's representatives, in case you were wondering.)
A year ago, the writers bet heavily on Ohio State -- they were a unanimous pick to win the Big Ten Leaders division (that panned out) and a near-unanimous pick (25 out of 26) to win the Big Ten Championship Game (that did not pan out). This year, the writers have... bet heavily on Ohio State. 20 of 29 writers picked them to represent the Big Ten East in the title game, while 19 writers picked them to win the whole thing. If they keep picking Ohio State, eventually they'll be right, I suppose.
The title race in the West Division was much closer, reflecting a divided opinion among Big Ten writers. 14 writers picked Wisconsin to make the title game, while 9 writers picked Iowa. (Five writers picked Nebraska and one brave -- or deluded -- soul picked Northwestern.) That worked out to an overall second-place finish for Iowa in the projected West Division standings. (Purdue brings up the rear in the division because LOL OMHR.) None of the writers who picked Iowa to win the West also picked them to emerge victorious from the B1G title game, though -- five thought the Hawkeyes would lose to Michigan State, while four thought they would lose to Ohio State. Bah.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller was the preseason pick for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. No Iowa player cracked the top-4, although a pair of B1G West running backs did, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah. Michigan State LB/DE Shilique Calhoun was the preseason pick for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. No Iowa player cracked the top-4 there, either. In fact, the only B1G West player listed was Nebraska DE Randy Gregory. They're gonna look awful foolish when Carl Davis devours the entire league this year.
Anyway, what say you? Does second place in the West seem like a fair projection for Iowa? Vote in the poll.