Heading into the 2021 football season, there was not a lot of optimism for the Michigan State Spartans. The team was coming off of an unimpressive 2-5 campaign in a 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national media was quite low on the Spartans during the 2021 preseason, as MSU was picked to finish last in the Big Ten East Division in last year’s cleveland.com preseason poll. Instead, Michigan State exceeded all expectations by going 11-2 and winning a New Year’s Six bowl with a 31-21 Peach Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
Heading into to the 2022 season, cleveland.com has once again compiled a preseason poll for the Big Ten Conference, which includes a panel of beat writers from 13 of the 14 Big Ten teams and writers who cover the entire league or national college football scene.
The 36 voters in this year’s poll are a little bit higher on the Spartans compared to last year, but still don’t see Michigan State winning the division, or even coming close to that feat. The voters placed MSU fourth in the Big Ten East, behind Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.
The poll was scored as follows: “Each writer was asked to vote 1-7 in both divisions, with first-place votes worth seven points, second-place votes worth six and so on.” Michigan State earned 162 points, which was tied with Minnesota for the fifth-most in the conference.
That said, cleveland.com notes that that Spartans received votes to finish anywhere from second through sixth place in the division in this poll.
Ohio State was unanimously picked to win the Big Ten Conference title, earning all 36 votes. This is the third consecutive year the Buckeyes have been the preseason favorite to win the conference crown in the cleveland.com poll.
With Ohio State as the favorite in the Big Ten East (all 36 votes, 252 points), Wisconsin was easily the Big Ten West Division pick, receiving 31 first-place votes and 246 points.
The Ohio State versus Wisconsin Big Ten Championship game received 31 of the 36 votes. Other combinations included Ohio State versus Iowa (three votes) and Ohio State versus Minnesota (two votes).
1. Wisconsin (31 first-place votes) 246 points
2. Iowa (3) 198
3. Minnesota (2) 162
4. Purdue 153
5. Nebraska 123
6. Illinois 65
7. Northwestern 61
1. Ohio State (36) 252
2. Michigan 203
3. Penn State 169
4. Michigan State 162
5. Maryland 104
6. Rutgers 60
7. Indiana 58