CHICAGO – And the expectations remain high for Ohio State.
For the second consecutive season and the fifth time since 2001, the Buckeyes have been picked as the preseason favorite to capture the league crown. OSU, which have been in the top three of the preseason vote in every one of those seasons, also boast the league’s preseason offensive player of the year in junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Picked to give the Buckeyes the most serious challenge as they attempt to capture a share of a record-tying sixth straight Big Ten title are Iowa and Wisconsin, which were picked to finish second and third, respectively. The Buckeyes have road contests with both the Hawkeyes and Badgers.
“In 2008 we had some high expectations,” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. “Even when we went 12-1 my first year, I very seldom ever reference that season with our guys because what’s history is history. It does nothing to affect the future.”
Since 2002, the Buckeyes have had a player be named either the offensive or defensive preseason most valuable player. Pryor landed the honor for the second consecutive season, giving OSU four of the offensive nominees in the past five seasons.
He did not bring home the postseason version of the award, however. That went to Wisconsin running back John Clay, who will be a junior this season. The 2009 season marked the first time in five years that a Buckeye did not bring home either the offensive or defensive player of the year award.
Pryor is also the fourth Buckeye and first from the offensive side of the ball to repeat as preseason player of the year, joining linebackers James Laurinaitis (2007-08), A.J. Hawk (2004-05) and Andy Katzenmoyer (1997-98).
On the defensive side, Michigan State senior linebacker Greg Jones was named the preseason defensive player of the year after capturing last year’s postseason award. He was also last season’s preseason selection, giving the awards their first double repeat since 1997-98, when Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne and Katzenmoyer were so honored.
Since the Big Ten started announcing preseason players of the year in 1996, 10 players have also gone on to win the postseason award. Four of them are Buckeyes – Laurinaitis (2007-08), quarterback Troy Smith (2006) and Hawk (2005).
The Big Ten coaches will begin addressing the media at 11 a.m. Eastern, so check back later for updated news and quotes as BuckeyeSports.com covers the 2010 Big Ten Football Media Days.
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