With four straight league titles in hand and two straight College Football Playoff appearances, Ohio State has clearly established itself as the class of the Big Ten, and media who cover the league unanimously expect that dominance to continue in the 2021 season. In the annual cleveland.com Big Ten preseason media poll released Wednesday, the Buckeyes finished as the unanimous pick to win the league with all 34 voters projecting OSU to knock off the Big Ten West champion in the league title game.
As for who that Big Ten West champion will be, there was a bit of disagreement, although Wisconsin emerged as the favorite with 29 of the 34 votes. The other five votes went to an Iowa squad that won its final six games in the 2020 season. The Badgers host Iowa on Oct. 30. as they will seek to avenge last season's 28-7 loss to the Hawkeyes.
As for the league's preseason players of the year, Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave received the most votes from the offensive side, while Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph won the defensive honor with 11 votes.
Despite replacing star quarterback Justin Fields, leading rusher Trey Sermon and several of their top defenders from last year's 7-1 squad, Ohio State returns a promising roster under fourth-year coach Ryan Day. The Buckeyes also avoid Iowa and Wisconsin during regular season play, while top division challenger Penn State must play against both on the road. For reference, Ohio State took 33 of 34 first-place votes in the 2020 poll. Back in 2019, the voters tabbed Michigan as the preseason favorite, but that didn't stop Ohio State's march to a title.
Below are the full results of this year's cleveland.com preseason media poll with first-place votes in parentheses.
Big Ten West
Big Ten East
Ohio State (34)