Surprise, surprise…the Big Ten favorite is Ohio State.
The Big Ten announced Thursday morning that Coach Jim Tressel's Buckeyes have been tabbed as the preseason favorite by media members attending this week's Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. In addition, OSU tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells was the choice as league Offensive Player of the Year, while Buckeye linebacker Jim Laurinaitis was the pick for league Defensive Player of the Year.
With a league-best 20 starters returning from a squad that went 11-2 overall, 7-1 in league play and appeared in the national championship game, it's no surprise Ohio State heads into the 2008 season as the conference favorite. Tressel's teams have won three straight Big Ten titles, going 22-2 against Big Ten foes in the last three seasons.
Wisconsin (9-4/5-3 in '07) was picked to finish second, while last year's surprise Rose Bowl participant Illinois (9-4/6-2) was picked third. The league only announces the top three choices.
Wells returns after rushing for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago, earning him All-Big Ten and second-team All-America accolades. Laurinaitis, meanwhile, was the league's Defensive Player of the Year last season and a consensus All-American after leading OSU with 121 tackles to go along with five sacks and two interceptions.
HoosierNation.com will have more coverage from the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon later today.
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