AP Photo/Al Goldis

Indiana picked to finish third in Big Ten East in Cleveland.com poll of conference reporters

Indiana was picked to finish third in the Big Ten East behind Ohio State and Penn State in an unofficial poll of conference beat reporters compiled and published by Nathan Baird at Cleveland.com.

The conference beat writers also picked quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to finish second in the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year race behind wide receiver Chris Olave of Ohio State.

Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden was picked to finish fourth and cornerback Tiawan Mullen seventh in the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year race. Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph was picked to win the award.

Ohio State got the first place votes of all 34 panelists and was also unanimously chosen to win the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes have won four straight Big Ten championship games and are coming off a season in which they defeated Clemson in the Sugar Bowl before losing to Alabama in the national championship game.

The unanimous selection got the Buckeyes 238 points in the divisional poll. Penn State finished second in the Big Ten East with 192. Indiana was third with 169 after finishing 6-2 last season with wins over Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin before the Hoosiers lost to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. Michigan (144 points) was picked to finish fourth, followed by Maryland (79), Rutgers (77.5) and Michigan State (52.5).

Wisconsin was picked to win the Big Ten West with 29 first-place votes and 233 points. Iowa was voted to win the league by five voters and earned 202 points in the poll. Northwestern was picked to finish third with 160 points, followed by Minnesota (146), Nebraska (91.5), Purdue (72.5) and Illinois (47.)

Olave was picked to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors by 11 panelists and earned 58 points in the poll. Penix Jr. was picked to win by eight panelists and earned 44.5 points. Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim was third with 36 points and four first-place votes. Twelve Big Ten players earned at least one first-place vote including Indiana wide receiver Ty Fryfogle, who got one first-place vote and four points in the poll.

Joseph led the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year balloting with 11 first-place votes and 49 total points. Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis was second with eight first-place votes and 33 points, and Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett was third with five first-place votes and 30.5 total points. McFadden was fourth with 28 points, and he had six first-place votes. Mullen earned one first-place votes but had just seven points in the poll.

The Big Ten writers have conducted unofficial polls for 11 years since the conference stopped doing official preseason polls in both football and men’s basketball. The reporters at Cleveland.com have handled the football poll, and the basketball poll is currently run by Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch and Brendan Quinn of The Athletic.