Jonathan Taylor-UW picked to finish third in West

Tailback Jonathan Taylor eludes a tackle during the University of Wisconsin's victory over Miami in last year's Pinstripe Bowl.

A poll of 34 reporters who cover Big Ten Conference football released on Wednesday picked the University of Wisconsin to finish third in the Big Ten West Division this season, behind Nebraska and Iowa.

The Badgers received four first-place votes and 172.5 points overall in the annual Cleveland.com poll. The Cornhuskers (198 points) and Hawkeyes (194.5) each received 14 first-place votes.

Northwestern (142.5), last season's Big Ten West champion, was picked to finish fourth, followed by Purdue (110.5), Minnesota (100) and Illinois (34). Northwestern and Minnesota each received one first-place vote.

This is the ninth year that Cleveland.com has organized voting from league writers, after the Big Ten did away its the official preseason predictions. Big Ten media days are set for Thursday and Friday in Chicago, where the conference will unveil a watch list of players but no actual predictions.

Each writer was asked to rank each division from top to bottom, with seven points awarded for a first-place vote, down to one point for a seventh-place vote.

Michigan (222 points) edged Ohio State (214) in the Big Ten East vote, ahead of Michigan State (156), Penn State (154), Indiana (86.5), Maryland (82.5) and Rutgers (37).

A total of 17 voters picked Michigan to win the Big Ten championship, followed by Ohio State, which received 14 votes. The other votes went to Nebraska (2) and Northwestern (1).

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The poll picked Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor as the Big Ten's preseason offensive player of the year.

Taylor received 21 first-place votes, and his total of 78 points put him far ahead of second-place choice Rondale Moore (36), a wide receiver and return specialist from Purdue. UW center Tyler Biadasz received a third-place vote.

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young (57 points) beat out Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (52) in the vote for Big Ten preseason defensive player of the Year. No UW defensive players received votes.

The Badgers, who begin training camp on July 31, will open the season with a non-conference game at South Florida on Aug. 30.

UW will face what appears to be a more demanding Big Ten schedule this season than in recent years. That schedule includes home games against Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa, as well as games at Ohio State and Nebraska.

UW tied for second with Iowa and Purdue in the Big Ten West last season with a 5-4 record. Northwestern won the West with an 8-1 mark.

The Badgers (8-5 overall in 2018) capped last season with a 35-3 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Pinstripe Bowl.


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