Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten preseason forecast calls for a big year in Columbus.
Ohio State was tabbed as the Big Ten preseason favorite, and sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor earned the nod as the league's preseason Offensive Player of the Year. It marks the second consecutive year and the third time in the past four years that Ohio State enters the fall as the league's preseason favorite.
Penn State, which shared the league title with Ohio State last year but won the head-to-head matchup in Columbus, was picked to finish second. Michigan State was picked third in the league, while Spartans junior linebacker Greg Jones was tabbed as preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
It's no surprise that the Buckeyes got the nod as preseason favorites. Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten this decade, winning or sharing five league titles, including each of the last four. Though Penn State returns a lot of big names and boasts a favorable schedule, Ohio State's depth and ability to reload has been unmatched for some time.
The media's pick of Pryor is a bit of a stunner, though, as the quarterback endured growing pains last fall and Ohio State finished 105th nationally in pass offense. Pryor's selection both underscores his potential for big things and the relative lack of star power in the Big Ten. I really thought Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark or Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn would get the nod here, but Pryor certainly has a high ceiling in his college career.
Jones has been consistently excellent throughout his first two years in a Michigan State uniform and has flown under the radar until now. A deserving choice here.
I was a bit surprised to see Michigan State edge Iowa for third place in the preseason poll -- unlike other leagues, the Big Ten poll only lists the top three teams -- but the Spartans are coming off of a strong season and return a seasoned defense led by Jones.
In the interest of full disclosure, here were my picks for the Big Ten preseason poll:
1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Arrelious Benn, Illinois
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Navorro Bowman, Penn State