For just the second time in six years, the Wisconsin football team hasn’t been picked to finish first or second in the Big Ten West.
In a poll conducted by Cleveland.com, media that covers the 14 teams in the conference chose Nebraska to finish first, Iowa to finish second and the Badgers to come in third. Wisconsin did receive four first-place votes, but that trailed the 14 that the Huskers and Hawkeyes each got. In total, five of the seven teams in the division received at least one first-place vote.
In the East Division, Michigan took the top spot with 20 first-place votes. The Wolverines were followed by Ohio State (14 first-place votes), Michigan State and Penn State.
Overall, Michigan was picked to win the Big Ten title game by 17 writers, while the Buckeyes got the nod from 14 voters. Nebraska (2) and Northwestern (1) were the only other schools picked to win the championship.
The last time Wisconsin was picked third came in 2016. All the Badgers did that year was win the West at 7-2, come up just short in the Big Ten title game and then won the Cotton Bowl.
As for individual awards, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor was by far the leading vote getter for preseason Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He got 21 first-place votes, while the rest of the conference got 13 combined. That included Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore (3), Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson (4) and Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (2).
Ohio State’s Chase Young was voted as the preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Taylor, along with linebacker Chris Orr and center Tyler Biadasz, will be in Chicago for Big Ten Media Days starting Thursday.
Under former coaches Stu Jackson, Stan Van Gundy and Dick Bennett, players like Michael Finely, Rashard Griffith and Mike Kelley had their names on the back of their jerseys. But when Bo Ryan took over the program in 2001, he took them off, with the idea to focus more on the name on the front of the jersey than the back. His longtime assistant, Greg Gard, kept it that way when he took over for Ryan in late 2015. Now, though, they are back on for the first time in 19 years.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is among 80 players up for the Maxwell Award.
The watch list was revealed Monday for the annual award that goes to the top player in the country.
Though Taylor is one of 28 running backs on the list, he is certainly the most accomplished. He nabbed the Doak Walker Award (nation’s best running back) last season and has run for more yards in his first two seasons (4,171) than anyone in FBS history. The New Jersey product has a chance top 6,000 yards by the end of the upcoming season, which would make him the seventh in history to hit that mark and the only one to do it in three years.
Taylor was a semifinalist for the award last season, though it eventually went to Alabama quarterback Too Tagovailoa.
Taylor is among the stars slated to attend Big Ten Media Days in Chicago on Thursday and Friday this week. He’ll be joined there by teammates Chris Orr and Tyler Biadasz.
Gordon is in the final year of his rookie deal that is set to pay him $5.6 million this season. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
A first-round pick in 2015, Gordon has rushed for 3,628 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first four years. That included a career-high of 1,105 yards in 2017 and a career-best 5.1 yards per carry in 2018. He’s also become a threat out of the backfield, grabbing 108 passes over the last two seasons.
Gordon stayed away from the Chargers voluntary offseason workouts in hopes of getting a new contract, choosing instead to spend some of that time working out with former Wisconsin teammates James White and Austin Traylor in Florida.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound, Hill is considered a 3-star prospect by 247Sports and ranked as the 35th-best pro-style quarterback in the country. He chose the Badgers over offers from Kansas State and Nevada.
Hill joins 4-star tackle JP Benzschawel (Grafton, Wis.) and 3-star running back Jackson Acker (Verona, Wis.) as commitments in Wisconsin’s 2021 class.
The 6-foot-1, 222-pound Turner is a 3-star recruiting, according to the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked as the 18th-best player in the state of Michigan and the 34th-best outside linebacker in the country.
Turner claimed 23 scholarship offers and chose the Badgers over the likes of Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State and Pittsburgh.
Then on Tuesday, linebacker Malik Reed (Chandler, Ariz.) announced his commitment to coach Paul Chryst.
A 3-star recruit as well, Reed spurned conference rival Nebraska and home state Arizona in choosing Wisconsin.
At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Reed runs a 4.7-yard 40-yard dash and claims a vertical of nearly 32 inches. He’s ranked as the 16th-best player in Arizona and the 41st-best outside linebacker in the country.
The two commitments give Wisconsin 11 in their 2020 class.