Michigan Tabbed As 2023 B1G Favorite

July 27, 2023 by cleveland.com

For the first time in four years, Ohio State football is not the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Conference.

Michigan earned a comfortable margin as the projected conference champion in the 13th annual cleveland.com Preseason Big Ten Football Poll. Of the 37 voters from across the league, 27 picked the Wolverines to win it all, compared to eight for Ohio State.

A third East Division team — Penn State — took the other two. Every voter followed through by picking their East Division winner as the overall champ.

The West Division prediction, though, came down to a single point. Wisconsin received 20 first-place votes and totaled 233 points, while Iowa’s 16 first-place votes led to 232 points.

The previous closest vote for a division champion came in 2013, when Michigan was picked to win the Legends Division over Nebraska by three points.

This is the fourth straight season Wisconsin has been the preseason West favorite. Last season, it had a 48-point cushion over Iowa in the same poll.

Minnesota received a single first-place vote in the West in the final season of a Big Ten schedule format with divisions. Beginning in 2024, the teams with the two best records overall will advance to the championship game.

If that had been the vote this year, the results suggest our panel’s consensus would have been a rematch of The Game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Ohio State had been the preseason favorite in each of the previous three seasons. Michigan was the preseason favorite in 2019, edging the Buckeyes in first-place votes (20-16) and points (eight). Ohio State won the third of its four consecutive Big Ten championships that season.

The Buckeyes were still the unanimous league favorite last season, despite Michigan’s status as defending champion.

A second Wolverines win in Ohio Stadium last season perhaps helped sway some voters. This year’s game returns to Ann Arbor. Michigan also plays the easier league schedule of the two teams by most estimations, as it does not play Wisconsin or Iowa.

The Buckeyes travel to Wisconsin in Week 9, one week after playing Penn State at home.

Cleveland.com picked up the responsibility for organizing the poll when the Big Ten dropped it 13 years ago. Beat writers from all 14 Big Ten teams were invited to participate, as were some who cover the entire league or have a national perspective. A total of 37 voters participated.

Most other major conferences organize and release a preseason poll. Big Ten Media Days are Wednesday and Thursday in Indianapolis. The conference will release a watch list of players — five from each division — but no predicted finish.

Each writer was asked to vote 1-7 in both divisions, with first-place votes worth seven points, second-place votes worth six and so on.

Big Ten East

1-Michigan (27 first-place votes) 248
2-Ohio State (8) 226
3-Penn State (2) 192
4-Maryland 143
5-Michigan State 105
6-Rutgers 74
7-Indiana 48

Big Ten West

1-Wisconsin (20 first-place votes) 233
2-Iowa (16) 232
3-Minnesota (1) 176
4-Illinois 152
5-Nebraska 116
6-Purdue 89
7-Northwestern 38

Big Ten championship game predictions

Michigan over Wisconsin (15)
Michigan over Iowa (11)
Michigan over Minnesota (1)
Ohio State over Iowa (4)
Ohio State over Wisconsin (4)
Penn State over Iowa (1)
Penn State over Wisconsin (1)

Other poll notes

In 2011, Nebraska was the preseason favorite in the first year of this poll. No other current West team ever again topped the preseason poll.

All of the first-, second- and third-place votes in the East went to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

Five teams received second-place votes in the West: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska. Wisconsin’s edge over Iowa in first-place votes was offset by Iowa’s edge in second-place votes (17-11). The Badgers also received five thirds and one sixth-place vote. The Hawkeyes received two thirds and two fourths.

Defending West champion Purdue received votes ranging from third to last.

Illinois was picked to finish sixth last season, then nearly won the West. This year it received votes ranging from second to sixth.

Six voters predicted a regular-season rematch in the Big Ten championship game: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (four), Michigan vs. Minnesota and Penn State vs. Iowa (one each).

Northwestern, which is dealing with the fallout from a hazing scandal that led to the firing of longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald, received 36 of a possible 37 last-place votes.

Previous Poll Picks, Result

2022: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Michigan.

2021: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Michigan.

2020: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Ohio State

2019: Pick: Michigan. Actual: Ohio State

2018: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Ohio State

2017: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Ohio State

2016: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Penn State

2015: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Michigan State.

2014: Pick: Michigan State. Actual: Ohio State.

2013: Pick: Ohio State. Actual: Michigan State.

2012: Pick: Michigan. Actual: Wisconsin.

2011: Pick: Nebraska. Actual: Wisconsin.

Big Ten Honors

The Big Ten Conference announced its 2023 football preseason honors. A media panel selected the 10-member preseason list, with five representatives each from the East and West Divisions.

The East Division list highlighted by a pair of returning consensus All-Americans in Michigan’s Blake Corum and Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. Corum and Harrison Jr. were joined on this year’s preseason East Division squad by Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, Wolverine quarterback J.J. McCarthy and Penn State offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu.

Four different schools placed students on the West Division preseason list, led by two representatives from Minnesota in tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford and defensive back Tyler Nubin. They were joined on the list by Illinois defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton, Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean and Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen.

The 2023 Big Ten preseason honors list features two recipients of conference individual awards from a season ago in Corum (Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year) and Harrison Jr.  (Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year).

Corum, Harrison Jr., and Newton were also 2022 first-team All-Big Ten selections, joining second-team selections Allen, DeJean, Fashanu, Nubin and Tagovailoa, as well as third-team honoree McCarthy.

Nine of this year’s Big Ten preseason honorees — Allen, Corum, DeJean, Fashanu, Harrison Jr., Newton, Nubin, Spann-Ford, Tagovailoa — are scheduled to attend Big Ten Media Days this week in Indianapolis.

Big Ten Preseason Honorees:

Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OL, Penn State

Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
Brevyn Spann-Ford, TE, Minnesota
Tyler Nubin, DB, Minnesota
Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin