CHICAGO – The Nebraska Cornhuskers, entering their first season in the conference, were the narrow choice to win the inaugural Big Ten championship game by the voters taking part in the Big Ten Preseason Newspaper Poll.
The results of the poll were released Thursday as the coaches, top players and media from the conference gathered here for two days of meetings at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place convention center.
Scandal-rocked Ohio State, winners of at least a share of the past six Big Ten titles but facing the suspensions of key players and serious NCAA sanctions, was selected to finish second in the Leaders Division, behind Wisconsin.
Nebraska got the nod to win the Legends Division and was favored by a very slight margin to defeat the Badgers in the title game in Indianapolis in December.
Michigan State was picked as the likely runner-up behind Nebraska in the Legends Division, while Michigan was picked fourth.
After adding Nebraska to the fold, the Big Ten (now 12 teams) split into the two divisions and added the championship game, which has been a very lucrative venture for the Big 12 and SEC.
The Big Ten Preseason Newspaper Poll was created for the 2011 season after the Big Ten conference dropped its traditional preseason balloting.
Big Ten Preseason Newspaper Poll
Division predictions (first-place votes in parentheses)
* Voting on 6-5-4-3-2-1 point system
1. Nebraska (19) 139
2. Michigan State (4) 118
3. Iowa 82
4. Michigan (1) 71
5. Northwestern 69
6. Minnesota 25
1. Wisconsin (22) 141
2. Ohio State (1) 113
3. Penn State (1) 95
4. Illinois 76
5. Purdue 52
6. Indiana 27