Nebraska returns a three-year starter at quarterback in Adrian Martinez and eight of its top 10 tacklers from the 2020 season.
Even so, Big Ten media members are unconvinced the Huskers have the goods to capture the West Division.
Nebraska, 3-5 a year ago, is picked to finish fifth in the seven-team division in the 2021 cleveland.com Preseason Big Ten Poll. Each of the 34 voters was asked to vote one through seven in both divisions, with first-place votes worth seven points, second-place votes worth six and so on.
Wisconsin was the clear-cut choice to capture the Big Ten West, receiving 29 first-place votes and a total of 233 points. Iowa was picked to finish second, picking up five first-place votes and 202 points.
Northwestern, last year’s Big Ten West first-place finisher, was picked to wind up third (160 points), followed by Minnesota (146) and Nebraska (91.5).
Nebraska opens the season Aug. 28 at Illinois, which was picked last in the West Division with 47 points, far behind sixth-place pick Purdue (72.5).
Meanwhile, Ohio State, the national runner-up in 2020, was the unanimous choice among all 34 voters to win the Big Ten East Division and go on to win the conference championship game. The Buckeyes are the four-time defending league champions, but will begin the season with a new quarterback, an unsettled running back position and new starters at more than half of their defensive positions.
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