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Rutgers picked sixth in Big Ten preseason poll

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It marked the first time the Scarlet Knights weren’t picked to finish in last place.

Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Progress can be measured in many ways and Rutgers took one small step forward on Wednesday on the field of perception among the media. In the annual Big Ten preseason poll conducted by Cleveland.com, the Scarlet Knights were picked to finish in sixth place in the East division ahead of Michigan State. RU finished less than two points behind fifth place Maryland, who they beat last season.

It’s the first time since Rutgers joined the league in the 2014 season that they’ve been picked to finish better than last place. Per the article detailing the poll results, “Rutgers was the most polarizing team in the East, picked to finish anywhere from third to last.”

Despite the lack of faith in the past, RU exceeded preseason poll projections three times previously. They finished in fourth place in 2014, as well as fifth place in 2017 and last season in head coach Greg Schiano’s return.

The full East preseason poll projections are here.

  1. Ohio State (34 first-place votes) 238
  2. Penn State 192
  3. Indiana 169
  4. Michigan 144
  5. Maryland 79
  6. Rutgers 77.5
  7. Michigan State 52.5

In the West, Rutgers is scheduled to play the preseason favorite Wisconsin, third place Northwestern and last place Illinois. RU lost to the Illini at home last season and play on the road this season, so it’s a winnable game but the Scarlet Knights might not even be favored when they play on Halloween weekend.

  1. Wisconsin (29 first-place votes) 233 points
  2. Iowa (5) 202
  3. Northwestern 160
  4. Minnesota 146
  5. Nebraska 91.5
  6. Purdue 72.5
  7. Illinois 47

In addition, Rutgers linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi was picked fifth in the Defensive Player of the Year poll. He received three first place votes and 18 points total. This came a day after being named to the Bednarik Award watch list, which is annually given to the best defensive player in college football. Fellow linebacker Tyshon Fogg received one point in the poll, which is below.

1. Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern (11 first-place votes) 49 points

2. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue (8) 33

3.Haskell Garrett, DT, Ohio State (5) 30.5

4. Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana (6) 28

5. Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers (3) 18

6. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan 11

7 (tie). Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin 7

7 (tie). Tiawan Mullen, CB, Indiana (1) 7

9. Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State 3.5

10 (tie). Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State 3

10 (tie). Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State 3

12 (tie). Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota 2

12 (tie). Chris Bergin, LB, Northwestern 2

12 (tie). Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska 2

12 (tie). Jake Hansen, LB, Illinois 2

16 (tie). JoJo Domann, S/LB, Nebraska 1

16 (tie). Tyshon Fogg, LB, Rutgers 1

16 (tie). Owen Carney, LB, Illinois 1

Big Ten Media Days begin on Thursday and run through Friday. BTN will air live coverage on both days. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano’s scheduled press conference is at 11 a.m. on Friday. We will have full coverage of the event over the next few days. Here is the full schedule of press conferences spread over two days:

Thursday, July 22

10:30 - 11:00 a.m. Kevin Warren, Big Ten commissioner

11:00 - 11:15 a.m. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Michael Locksley, Maryland

11:30 - 11:45 a.m. Scott Frost, Nebraska

11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Bret Bielema, Illinois

12:00 - 12:15 p.m. James Franklin, Penn State

12:15 - 12:30 p.m. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

12:30 - 12:45 p.m. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Friday, July 23

11:00 - 11:15 a.m. Greg Schiano, Rutgers

11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Mel Tucker, Michigan State

11:30 - 11:45 a.m. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Tom Allen, Indiana

12:00 - 12:15 p.m. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

12:15 - 12:30 p.m. Jeff Brohm, Purdue

12:30 - 12:45 p.m. Ryan Day, Ohio State