- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ohio State has won or shared the last five Big Ten championships. According to the media, the Buckeyes will celebrate a sixth consecutive title in late November.
For the third straight year, Ohio State has been picked as the Big Ten preseason favorite. Led by All-America candidate Cameron Heyward, the Buckeyes aim to match a team record with their sixth consecutive Big Ten crown after doing so from 1972-77.
No one will be surprised by Ohio State's selection. The bigger drama came at the No. 2 spot, as media around the country seem to be split on Iowa and Wisconsin. Iowa got the nod from the Big Ten press corps, coming in at No. 2 after an Orange Bowl championship in January. Wisconsin rounds out the preseason poll at No. 3 (unlike other leagues, the Big Ten only reveals the top three teams in preseason voting).
The media's selections for preseason players of the year mirrored last year's choices: Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor (offense) and Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones (defense). It marks the first time this has happened since 1998, when Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne and Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer received the honors.
Pryor is certainly more deserving of the honor this year than he was in 2009, when Big Ten media members got drunk in the hype surrounding the Buckeyes signal-caller. He comes off of his best career performance against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, winning the game's offensive MVP honors. I voted for Wisconsin junior running back John Clay, who won 2009 postseason Offensive Player of the Year honors and could be even better this fall. Clay is the better choice, but both he and Pryor are Heisman Trophy candidates entering the fall.
Jones lived up to the hype in 2009, sharing postseason Defensive Player of the Year honors with Penn State's Jared Odrick. The three-year starter ranked third nationally in tackles with 154 and fifth in the Big Ten in sacks with nine.
Both player of the year races should be very competitive, especially the defensive side, as Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Heyward will challenge Jones.
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward