Aug. 7, 2006
With the college football season less than a month away, the Big Ten was well represented in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll highlighted by defending conference co-champion Ohio State ranked No. 1 in the country. The Buckeyes were joined by Michigan, Iowa and Penn State among the top 20, making the Big Ten one of only three conferences to boast four top-20 programs along with the ACC and SEC.
Ohio State will open the season as the nation's top team and received 28 first-place votes after ending the 2005 campaign with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame and ranked fourth in both major polls. The Buckeyes were chosen as the conference's preseason favorite by media members attending the Big Ten football media days in early August. Ohio State is followed by defending national champion Texas at No. 2 in the rankings and the two teams will square off on Sept. 9 in Austin. Rounding out the top five are USC and Notre Dame tied at No. 3 in the country and Oklahoma at No. 5. The Fighting Irish will take on four Big Ten teams this season beginning with a home contest against Penn State on Sept. 9.
Three more conference squads appeared among the top 20 including No. 15 Michigan, No. 17 Iowa and No. 19 Penn State, which shared the Big Ten title with the Buckeyes last season before winning the Orange Bowl. An additional four conference programs received votes in the initial poll in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern.
The 111th season of Big Ten football kicks off with two games on Thursday, Aug. 31, with the remaining nine teams taking the field on Saturday, Sept. 2.