If the Gophers rise above Wisconsin and Nebraska to win the Big Ten West this season, it won’t be completely unexpected, at least according to the preseason media poll released Monday by Cleveland.com.

The Gophers were picked to finish third in the West behind Wisconsin and Nebraska, but three of the 40 media members polled picked Minnesota to win the division. The Badgers received 32 first-place votes, and the Cornhuskers received five.

Ohio State was a unanimous pick to win the Big Ten title, with all 40 voters predicting the Buckeyes will win the East followed by the conference title game.

The Big Ten does not conduct its own preseason poll, so Cleveland.com (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) has surveyed media members who follow the conference closely for the past five years.

Last year, the same poll had the Gophers picked fifth in the West behind Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern. Minnesota stayed in the division title hunt until the final week of the regular season. It was winner-take-all heading into the game at Wisconsin, but the Badgers won Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the 11th consecutive year.

Still, by going 5-3 in conference play, including wins at Michigan and Nebraska, the Gophers were viewed as overachievers. Coach Jerry Kill was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and coaches.

The Gophers, who need to replace running back David Cobb and tight end Maxx Williams, among others, will play the same eight Big Ten opponents as last season. That includes interdivision games against Michigan and Ohio State, while Wisconsin will once again play its interdivision games against Maryland and Rutgers.

Here are the results of the poll, with point totals (and first place votes):


1. Wisconsin 272 (32)

2. Nebraska 231.5 (5)

3. Minnesota 197 (3)

4. Iowa 158.5

5. Northwestern 125

6. Illinois 77

7. Purdue 59


1. Ohio State 280 (40)

2. Michigan State 240

3. Penn State 186.5

4. Michigan 163.5

5. Maryland 95.5

6. Rutgers 78

7. Indiana 76.5

Big Ten Championship

Ohio State over Wisconsin (32)

Ohio State over Nebraska (5)

Ohio State over Minnesota (3)