Aug. 6, 2010Park Ridge, Ill. - Less than one month away from the beginning of the college football season, four Big Ten squads ranked among the top 25 of the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll, released on Friday morning. The Big Ten leads all conferences with four teams ranked in the top 15 and joins the Big 12 and SEC in featuring multiple teams in the top 10. Each of the Big Ten's four ranked teams won bowl games last season over opponents ranked in the top 17 of this year's preseason poll.
Defending Rose Bowl champion Ohio State enters the 2010 season ranked second overall after finishing with an 11-2 record and securing its fifth straight Big Ten Championship last season. Ohio State knocked off Oregon (ranked 11th in the 2010 preseason poll) in last year's Rose Bowl Game and was voted as the preseason favorite to win the 2010 Big Ten title by the attending media at Big Ten media days. The Buckeyes aim to match the record of six straight conference crowns, first accomplished by Ohio State from 1972-77.
Ranked 10th in this year's preseason poll, Iowa finished last season with an 11-2 mark and a victory over Georgia Tech (ranked 17th in the 2010 preseason poll) in the Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes return 16 starters from a year ago and are in search of their first conference championship since sharing the crown with Michigan in 2004. Iowa was voted to finish second in the conference by the attending media at Big Ten media days.
Wisconsin appears at No. 12 in the preseason USA Today poll, having recorded 10 wins last season, including a victory over Miami (Fla.) (ranked 13th in the 2010 preseason poll) in the Champs Sports Bowl to end the year. With 18 starters returning, led by reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year running back John Clay, the Badgers were voted to finish third in the conference this year by the assembled media at Big Ten media days and eye their first conference title since 1999.
Checking in at No. 14 is Penn State, the fourth Big Ten team featured in the preseason USA Today top 25. Penn State was the third conference team to finish 2009 with 11 victories, highlighted by a win over Louisiana State (ranked 16th in the 2010 preseason poll) in the Capital One Bowl. The Nittany Lions return 13 starters from last season and look to win their second conference championship in the past three seasons.
Michigan State and Northwestern also received votes in the first USA Today poll of 2010.
The 115th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 2, as Indiana hosts Towson, Minnesota plays at Middle Tennessee State, and Ohio State welcomes Marshall. The conference's other eight teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 4.