The Big Ten conference does not hold official preseason voting anymore, but every year since 2011 cleveland.com conducts an unofficial one, polling the league’s 39 writers. It should be no surprise that Rutgers was picked to finish last in the East division. Rutgers was an unanimous last place selection by all the preseason publications, which we covered here: Lindy’s I Athlon I ESPN I Sporting News
If head coach Chris Ash wants to employ an “Us against the world” motivational tactic, he has plenty of bulletin board material to do so. The good news is, the cleveland.com poll has never picked the conference champion correctly. Hopefully that means they will be wrong about last place in the East as well. Here is more info from their site:
Since 2011, when the Big Ten stopped gathering preseason picks from journalists, cleveland.com has conducted the most official preseason Big Ten poll. Every other major conference gathers an official poll and releases it as part of its preseason event.
The Big Ten will hold its two days of interviews and promotion in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, and cleveland.com will be there. But this is the only preseason poll you'll get.
And it will probably be wrong.
This poll has never correctly picked the Big Ten champion in five tries. The Buckeyes got all 40 votes to win the league last year before Michigan State beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship. The Hawkeyes, who went undefeated during the regular season, were picked fourth in the West in this poll a year ago.
Here are the full results of the preseason poll conducted by cleveland.com, including total points for each team and first place votes in parenthesis:
1. Ohio State 260.5 (31)
2. Michigan 241 (14)
3. Michigan State 195.5 (1)
4. Penn State 155.5
5. Indiana 110
6. Maryland 81.5
7. Rutgers 52
1. Iowa 265 (33)
2. Nebraska 206 (3)
3. Wisconsin 194.5 (2)
4. Northwestern 171.5 (1)
5. Minnesota 132 (1)
6. Illinois 76.5
7. Purdue 46.5
After finishing at 4-8 last season, Rutgers is obviously the trendy pick to finish in last place in the East. Purdue has been an unanimous last place pick in the West by all publications as well. The good news is Rutgers plays both Illinois and Minnesota this season, who were picked directly above Purdue. Rutgers plays Illinois on October 15th during homecoming weekend on the banks, and travels to play at Minnesota the following weekend.
Ohio State is the overwhelming favorite in the Cleveland.com poll for the East division, with Michigan close behind. Reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State garnered just one first place vote and finished in third place in the poll.
At the end of the day, none of it matters. What does is the fact it is a new day for the Rutgers football program with Chris Ash leading the way. The positive changes he has made in such a short time have been endless. The fact that the program will enter his first season with zero expectations from the outside world is a good thing. It’s going to take time for Ash to elevate the program to a level he desires, but this season is about positive steps being taken. If Rutgers can upset an East rival or two like Penn State, Maryland and Indiana, beat Illinois and or Minnesota in the West, while being more competitive against the upper echelon of the Big Ten, the 2016 season should be viewed a success.
With nine bowl teams from a season ago on this year’s schedule, there will be no easy games. That is life in the Big Ten, and as fans we shouldn’t want it any other way! It all kicks off six weeks from today at Washington on September 3rd.