Taylor Martinez

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez looks for a receiver under pressure from Southern Mississippi's Khalid Wilson on Sept. 1. Martinez tied for second in an informal preseason poll for the Big Ten's top offensive player.

According to a preseason sampling of Big Ten media members, Ohio State is a runaway pick to win the conference title, and the Legends Division is believed to be a tossup between Nebraska and Michigan.

The Wolverines just edged the Huskers in an informal media poll compiled by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In a poll of 26 voters, Michigan and the Huskers both received 14 first-place votes (voters could pick ties), with Michigan State receiving four top votes.

Michigan accumulated 135 1/2 points in the poll, just three more than the Huskers. Michigan State was third with 101 1/2 points. Northwestern was fourth with 95 1/2. Iowa came in fifth, then Minnesota.

Twelve voters picked Ohio State over Nebraska as the league championship game scenario. Eleven picked OSU to beat Michigan there. Two picked the Buckeyes to beat MSU.

And there was one vote -- the lone vote to not pick Ohio State as the conference champ -- that had Michigan over the Buckeyes.

Although the Big Ten no longer has a formal media poll, the Plain Dealer has conducted its preseason poll since 2011, gathering the opinions of two beat writers from each team and two leaguewide writers from ESPN.com.

The poll has not had a great success rate the past two years. The media did not pick the correct conference champ in 2011 or 2012 and has chosen only one of the four division champs since then.

The Huskers were picked as Legends champs in 2011. Michigan State won it. They were picked third a year ago, when they finished first.

Given that, perhaps Indiana shouldn't relax too much at being predicted as the most likely team to surprise this year, receiving 13 of 26 votes.

Michigan State received the most votes (six) for the team most likely to disappoint. Michigan was right on the Spartans' heels, receiving just one fewer vote. The Huskers received three votes.

Here's the full results, with the number of votes in each category in parentheses:

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State 155 1/2 points (26)

2. Wisconsin 128 (1)

3. Penn State 104

4. Indiana 74 1/2

5. Purdue 52 1/2

6. Illinois 31 1/2

Legends Division

1. Michigan 135 1/2 (14)

2. Nebraska 132 1/2 (14)

3. Michigan State 101 1/2 (4)

4. Northwestern 95 1/2

5. Iowa 43

6. Minnesota 38

Big Ten team that will be most disappointing this season

1. Michigan State (6)

2. Michigan (5)

T3. Northwestern (4)

T3. Iowa (4)

5. Nebraska (3)

6. Penn State (2)

T7. Minnesota (1)

T7. Wisconsin (1)

Big Ten team that will be the most surprising this season

1. Indiana (13)

2. Northwestern (6)

3. Michigan State (2)

4. Purdue (2)

T5. Iowa (1)

T5. Wisconsin (1)

T5. Minnesota (1)

Big Ten Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State, (24)

T2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska, (1)

T2. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan, (1)

Big Ten Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

1. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State (16)

2. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin (4)

3. Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State (3)

4. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (2)

5. Tyler Scott, DL, Northwestern (1)

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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