Big Ten: 2011-May-poll-reax

Let's take a look back at the second day of Big Ten polling from last week.

To review, here were the topics:
Not surprisingly, Ohio State's Jim Tressel received the most votes for coach who must win this season. Although Tressel's biggest win needs to come Aug. 12 before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, he can maintain his goodwill in the eyes of Ohio State's power brokers by continuing to get it done on the field, especially amid all the adversity. There's not much patience for Brady Hoke out there, as the Michigan coach finished second in the voting. Perhaps the Hoke love fest among Wolverines fans will end quickly if things don't go well on the field. Illinois coach Ron Zook finished third, which is to be expected despite the team taking a step forward in 2010. I'm surprised Purdue's Danny Hope didn't receive more votes before what could be a pivotal season.

[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJim Tressel is under fire by the NCAA.
Nebraska fans showed up in force as the Huskers were the overwhelming pick to win the Big Ten in their first season as a league member. Will a taxing schedule sidetrack Big Red? We'll find out this fall. Ohio State and Wisconsin finished practically neck and neck for second place, followed by Michigan State. It's odd not seeing the Buckeyes as the Big Ten favorite among fans, but Ohio State will face unique challenges this fall.

Quarterback Dan Persa's success and Northwestern's recent run of bowl appearances made the Wildcats your clear pick for surprise team in 2011. Northwestern likely will enter the fall projected in the middle of the Big Ten pack, but the Wildcats avoid both Ohio State and Wisconsin on the schedule. They could make some noise if they win some critical road games (Iowa, Nebraska). Both Illinois and Purdue also got some love as potential surprise teams.

The controversy enveloping Ohio State and Tressel has led many of you to select the Buckeyes as the league's biggest disappointment in 2011. I still wouldn't bet against Ohio State with its track record and the talent it still has on both sides of the ball, but there will be significant distractions and personnel challenges this fall. Michigan State finished second in the voting, which likely points to the Spartans' brutal road schedule (Ohio State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa). A chunk of you also think Penn State will fail to meet expectations for the second straight year.

The can't-miss game polling went as expected, as Ohio State-Nebraska received nearly 50 percent of the votes. The Game also got some love as Hoke leads Michigan against "Ohio." I've got a feeling that after several noncompetitive contests, Ohio State-Michigan will be more intriguing this year. In hindsight, I should have substituted Iowa-Nebraska for Michigan State-Nebraska as a potential can't-miss game. It might have surpassed The Game for second place.
I hope you enjoyed all the polls on Thursday and Friday. They're an exciting new feature on the blog and will appear more in the future. It's a great way to gauge how Big Ten fans are thinking.

Although I'm limited to five options -- and many of you were ticked at the ones I chose -- I'll keep trying to give the best sampling for each given topic.

There were some interesting things that stood out about both days of polling. Let’s start with the Thursday polls, which were …
The "Most Improved" vote was interesting. Clearly, Nebraska fans are reading the blog as quarterback Taylor Martinez received the most votes, ahead of Penn State running back Silas Redd and Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. While Martinez could be dangerous if he stays healthy, my pick is Scheelhaase, who should build off of a solid freshman season and become more of a complete quarterback.

The Big Ten had six players selected in the first round of the NFL draft, but you went with Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor as the toughest player to replace. It can be attributed in part to the lack of proven depth behind Pryor. I'm a little surprised Illinois' Corey Liuget didn't get more votes. The Illini will really miss Liuget on the interior. I took some heat for including Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien among the choices, but his value to last year's team cannot be overstated. He was the difference between an 8- or 9-win team and a Rose Bowl participant.

Although Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is adjusting to a new offensive system, most of you think he'll repeat as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa finished a distant second, followed by Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. Robinson certainly has the ability and the name recognition to win the award again, although no Big Ten offensive player has done so since Indiana running back Anthony Thompson (1988-89).

You affirmed your belief in Robinson by selecting him as the Big Ten's top impact performer, ahead of Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick, Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde and Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa. Hyde certainly made an impact when he was on the field last fall. Persa is another guy who really shapes games.

Nebraska hasn't played a game as a member of the Big Ten, but I wouldn't be surprised if a Huskers player is named preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Not only does the Big Ten lose a bunch of decorated defenders to the NFL, but the Blackshirts also return several established stars. You seem to agree as Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and Crick received the most votes, followed by Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.

I'll have reaction on Friday's poll posts a little later today, so stay tuned.

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