Michigans wears bulls-eye as Big Ten favorite
The votes have been counted, and the media’s choice for the best Big Ten football team of 2004 is … not surprisingly, Michigan. The Wolverines were announced as conference favorites in the early hours prior to the start of Wednesday’s Big Ten football meetings in Chicago. Meanwhile, two top U-M rivals were chosen second and third, and the conference pre-season players of the year were announced.
The media tabbed Ohio State as the Big Ten’s second best for 2004, giving Iowa the third-place nod. The conference announces only the top three teams of its poll.
Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk has been selected as Big Ten Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year. He’s coming off a First-Team All-Big Ten campaign in 2003, one in which he racked up 106 tackles, including 13 tackles-for-loss.
Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton was dubbed the Big Ten Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year. Orton, one of the few returning Big Ten quarterbacks for 2004, is the Big Ten’s leading stats returnee in passing yards, passing efficiency and total offense. He enters the season ranked among the top five in Purdue history in passing attempts, conversions, yards, total offense and completion percentage. He’s also only the third quarterback in school history to have started three bowl games.
The Big Ten noted Michigan’s Lloyd Carr leads all active conference with four conference championships. The race is on for the fifth, and those who cover the games for a living like the chances in Ann Arbor.