PARK RIDGE, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced today that Michigan has been chosen as the preseason football favorite in a vote by media members attending the conference's media day. The Big Ten announces only the top three teams in its preseason poll, as Ohio State placed second and Iowa was selected third. The attending media also honored Hawkeyes' quarterback Drew Tate as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Buckeyes' linebacker A.J. Hawk as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The Wolverines produced a record of 7-1 in Big Ten action last year to collect a league-high 42nd conference crown and the program advanced to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year. Head coach Lloyd Carr has now claimed five Big Ten titles (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004), more than any other active coach. Michigan returns 16 starters this season, including eight on offense and seven on defense.
Ohio State was picked for second place in the preseason poll, as the Buckeyes welcome back 18 starters, including nine on both offense and defense. Head coach Jim Tressel has led Ohio State to a 40-11 mark in the last four seasons, becoming only the fifth coach in school history to reach 40 victories. Tressel's squads have also boasted three consecutive bowl victories, including the Buckeyes' national championship season in 2002.
Finishing third in the media poll was Iowa, which tied for first last season with a 7-1 league mark to earn a share of the Big Ten Championship. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has led the Hawkeyes to three straight seasons with 10 or more wins for the first time in school history and four consecutive bowl appearances, including a victory in the Capital One Bowl last season. Iowa returns 12 starters in 2005, which includes six on the offensive side of the ball.
In individual honors, Tate was tabbed as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after earning First Team All-Big Ten laurels as a sophomore last season from the coaches. The 6-0, 185-pounder led the conference in passing yards and efficiency while ranking second in total offense in Big Ten games. The Baytown, Texas native was also named the Capital One Bowl Most Valuable Player after leading the Hawkeyes to a 30-25 victory over LSU last season in Orlando.
For the second consecutive year, Hawk was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The 2004 First Team All-American and All-Big Ten pick ranked second in the league with 141 tackles, the most by an OSU player since Chris Spielman's 156 tackles in 1986. Hawk enters his final season only needing 127 stops to become the fifth player in school history to record 400 career tackles.
The 110th season of Big Ten football kicks off the first week of September with 10 teams taking the field for non-conference action.
Michigan Tabbed As Big Ten Favorite
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