Much of the offseason narrative about the Big Ten has been regarding its strengthening with Michigan presumably returning to a position of power as Ohio State and Michigan State overcome personnel losses to try and stay atop the league. Plus, let's not forget Iowa, which surprised many in 2015 and has every chance to keep that momentum going this year.

With the season approaching, our college football team takes a closer look at those that make up the Big Ten both on the field and watching from the sideline.

Best offensive player

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Sixteen starters gone? No problem. Barrett has finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting and been Big Ten quarterback of the year. He's got a national championship ring. Now he wants one from a game he actually played in. If you've got a quarterback, you've got a chance. And Ohio State has the best in the Big Ten. -- Dennis Dodd (In agreement: Everyone, unanimous vote)

Best defensive player

Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan: You're not going to find anyone in college football who's standing up against Peppers. Not with excitement peaking now that Don Brown, one of the best defensive coordinators in the game, has landed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Peppers is a pack of explosives in maize and blue, ready to play linebacker, cornerback, nickelback and maybe even some offense this season as the most athletic player in the Big Ten. -- Chip Patterson (In agreement: Dennis Dodd, Robby Kalland)

Desmond King, CB, Iowa: King decided to return to school for his senior season after piling up 72 tackles and eight interceptions last year on his way to winning the Jim Thorpe Award. Those numbers may drop this year as Big Ten offensive coordinators try to find a more successful way to attack the Hawkeyes' defense. King's mere presence shrinks the field for the opposing offense. -- Jerry Palm

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: McDowell had his "breakout" season as a sophomore in 2015, finishing with 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and eight quarterback hurries -- from the tackle position. This year, the Spartans are going to move him around, and while there are plenty of questions about Sparty's offense heading into the season, McDowell has me confident the defense will be just fine. -- Tom Fornelli

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: Peppers gets the attention as the athletic freak, but Lewis has a claim as the most valuable defender on Michigan's stingy defense. He was the highest graded cornerback in 2015, per Pro Football Focus, over King. If quarterbacks are more aware of that this season, Lewis takes away an entire half of the field just by playing. -- Ben Kercheval

Top newcomer

Rashan Gary, five-star freshman DL, Michigan: Gary was the No. 1 player in the country coming out of high school and everything we're hearing out of Wolverines camp tells us that he's living up to that billing. Even though Michigan has a defensive front that is stacked, Gary is too good not to make an impact. Think Christian Wilkins for Clemson last season -- that's the kind of role Gary can play for Michigan this fall. Advanced size, advanced athleticism and maturity is a tough combination to beat as a freshman. -- Barton Simmons, 247Sports director of recruiting

Best coach

Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Nick Saban and Meyer are 1A and 1B nationally. As great as he is, Jim Harbaugh isn't in that conversation yet. Meyer will be tested in 2016 with the fewest returning starters in the country, but he often surprises with young teams and now has the best quarterback for his system at Ohio State (J.T. Barrett). -- Jon Solomon (In agreement: Dennis Dodd, Jerry Palm, Tom Fornelli, Chip Patterson, Robby Kalland)

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: We're reaching a point where what Harbaugh says overshadows what he does, and what he does is coach football extremely well. We all know what he did at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers, but he has Michigan primed to make a Big Ten title run in 2016. The big question, of course, is quarterback, but Harbaugh has batted 1.000 there. -- Ben Kercheval

Best assistant

Don Brown, defensive coordinator, Michigan: Brown isn't a superstar coach on the rise, but he could be one of the most important coordinators in the Big Ten this year. He's replacing DJ Durkin to run the Michigan defense, and he inherits a very strong unit, including some wonderful weapons in Peppers and Lewis. Given what he did at Boston College with a lot less talent than he has to work with now, this Michigan defense could be legendary. -- Tom Fornelli (In agreement: Chip Patterson)

Ed Warinner, offensive coordinator, Ohio State: Warinner has been co-coordinating Ohio State's offense for the last five years, and the Buckeyes have been one of the most prolific offenses in the country during that time. Tom Herman got a lot of the credit for that, but there has been no drop off since he left to become the coach at Houston. Warinner has also coached the offensive line, which is always one of the best in the league. Ohio State's had one of the top 10 rushing offenses in the nation four of the last five years and was 11th that fifth year. -- Jerry Palm (In agreement: Ben Kercheval)

Greg Schiano, defensive coordinator, Ohio State: It's been a long time since Schiano has been an assistant, and Meyer broke one of his rules by hiring a good friend. But the guess here is Schiano, a terrific defensive mind, will improve a Buckeyes defense that doesn't need a whole lot of improvement. -- Jon Solomon

Jedd Fisch, quarterbacks coach, Michigan: In a secretive program, Fisch has elevated himself to head coaching material. Harbaugh has given his quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator loads of responsibility. It's time for Fisch, a former NFL and University of Miami offensive coordinator, to take a major step up. Consider that he helped get the immortal Jake Rudock into the NFL. -- Dennis Dodd

Luke Fickell, defensive coordinator, Ohio State: So much talk last year with Ohio State was about the offense with the quarterback shuffle and Ezekiel Elliott, but the defense led the way for the Buckeyes in 2015. They were filthy last year, allowing only 15.1 points per game (second nationally) and have produced tons of NFL talent over the past few seasons. Fickell has been a driving force in making Ohio State's defense one of the nation's best. -- Robby Kalland

Most entertaining

Jim Harbaugh, coach, Michigan: Do you really need an explanation? Love him or hate him, you have to watch and read what he says. The cartoon character must end, though. What Harbs has done for the sale of khakis he now has to accomplish at Michigan. He'll be held to the same standard as every Michigan coach from Fielding Yost to Brady Hoke. Win championships. Now. -- Dennis Dodd (In agreement: Jerry Palm, Ben Kercheval)

Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan: What's not to love about Peppers? I don't know for sure that he's even the best player on his own defense -- hey Jourdan Lewis -- but he's easily the most versatile and just an athletic freak. He's moving from safety to more of a hybrid linebacker role this season, but he'll be all over the place. And he'll be on special teams. oAnd he'll possibly see some time on offense as well. Try not to be entertained watching him play. -- Tom Fornelli (In agreement: Jon Solomon)

William Likely, DB, Maryland: Likely is one of the nation's best return men and is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands. He had three return touchdowns in 2015 (two punts, one kickoff), and his 18.2-yard average on punt returns was second best in the nation. He's not a household name, but he's one of those rare talents that makes the whole crowd stand up when he fields a kick because there's always the chance for a house call. -- Robby Kalland

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Barrett spent a portion of his summer destroying Pokemon Go and other viral sensations. I wasn't on board with the Pokemon Go fad when it exploded onto the scene earlier this summer, so I felt a connection to Barrett when he laid down some enforcement around Columbus, Ohio, with his arm. -- Chip Patterson