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SB Nation’s Big Ten season award predictions

All of the B1G sites got together to cast their vote.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While we are all foes on the field, Land-Grant Holy Land and the rest of SB Nation’s sister sites across the Big Ten tend to get along pretty well. This week, the managing editors of all 14 blogs put their heads together as we attempted to predict what will happen in 2021. Surely all of these will be entirely correct, because nothing weird or crazy ever happens in college football.

Big Ten East winner: Ohio State

This was one of three unanimous choices across all of the predictions. All 14 of us chose the Buckeyes to one again finish atop the Big Ten East. Nobody was brave enough to predict the continued meteoric rise of Indiana to result in a division win, nor did anyone choose Penn State or Michigan as really the only other candidates that seem at least somewhat possible this season.

Big Ten West winner: Wisconsin

Unlike Ohio State, this one was not unanimous, but the Badgers still won this vote by a long shot with 11 of the 14 votes in favor of Paul Chryst’s squad. Wisconsin should be really solid this year, and they have an incredibly favorable schedule in the West. There was also one vote each for Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska. If I had to choose a dark horse candidate to win the West, I would likely pick the Gophers, but I too rolled with Wisconsin.

Big Ten Champion: Ohio State

The second unanimous choice across all B1G blogs, all 14 participants chose the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten Championship for the fifth consecutive season. The overwhelming majority see the Buckeyes once again facing off against Wisconsin in the title game, and while I am high on this year’s Badgers team, they seem to just not have the firepower to keep up with Ryan Day’s offense — even if they keep it close for a few quarters.

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Ryan Day

This vote was really spread out, and Ryan Day edged out with three total picks while four other coaches got two votes each. Realistically, Ryan Day is not going to win this award, as the Ohio State coach rarely ever takes home this trophy because it is expected that the Buckeyes are good each season. Before Day won a share of the award in his first year in 2019, the last OSU headman to win it was Earle Bruce in 1979. My choice was P.J. Fleck because I am high on the Gophers’ upside, and he was one of the coaches with two votes alongside Tom Allen, Paul Chryst, and James Franklin.

Offensive Player of the Year: CJ Stroud

Another hotly contested vote, but Stroud came out ahead of the competition with four votes. The Ohio State quarterback has taken home this award each of the last three seasons, and there’s no reason to think with all the firepower on the Buckeyes’ offense that Stroud couldn't do the same with a productive campaign. Indiana QB Michael Penix was second with three votes, followed by Chris Olave (two) and Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim (two). There was also one vote each for Garrett Wilson, Purdue WR David Bell, and Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa.

Defensive Player of the Year: George Karlaftis

Seemingly a pretty easy choice here, and Karlaftis was atop the heap with four votes and a variety of other guys receiving one or two votes behind him. The Boilermakers are not expected to be stellar this year, but Karlaftis is without a doubt one of the best edge rushers in the Big Ten and should be in for a huge season if he can stay healthy. Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph and Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden each received two votes, with a six other guys getting one vote each including a trio of Buckeyes in Sevyn Banks, Haskell Garrett and Tyreke Smith.

Now let’s move to a more rapid-fire approach as we take a look at our positional award predictions:

Top QB: CJ Stroud (6)

Others receiving votes: Michael Penix (5), Graham Mertz (1), Tanner Morgan (1), Taulia Tagovailoa (1)

Top RB: Mohamed Ibrahim (9)

Others receiving votes: Kenneth Walker III (2), Hassan Haskins (1), Tyler Goodson (1), Noah Cain (1)

Top WR: Chris Olave (8)

Others receiving votes: David Bell (5), Garrett Wilson (1)

Top TE: Jake Ferguson (10)

Others receiving votes: Sam LaPorta (2), Jeremy Ruckert (1 — yes, it was me.)

Top Interior OL: Tyler Linderbaum (9)

Others receiving votes: Logan Bruss (1), Cam Jurgens (1), Doug Kramer (1), Zak Zinter (1)

Top OT: Thayer Munford (7)

Others receiving votes: Peter Skoronski (2), Daniel Faalele (1), Mike Miranda (1), Ryan Hayes (1), Rasheed Walker (1), Nicholas Petit-Frere (1 — me again because Munford might play inside)

Top Interior DL: Haskell Garrett (unanimous)

Top DE/Edge: George Karlaftis (7)

Others receiving votes: Aidan Hutchinson (2), Zach Harrison (2), Tyreke Smith (2)

Top LB: Micah McFadden/Jojo Domann/Jack Sanborn (3 each)

Others receiving votes: Olakunle Fatukasi (2), Jake Hansen (1), Jack Campbell (1)

Top DB: Tiawan Mullen (6)

Others receiving votes: Brandon Joseph (4), Cam Taylor-Britt (1), Daxton Hill (1), Jaquan Brisker (1)

Top Kicker: Charles Campbell/Connor Culp (4)

Others receiving votes: Matt Coghlin (2), Matthew Tricket (2), Mitchell Fineran (1)

Top Punter: Tory Taylor (12)

Others receiving votes: Adam Korsak (1)

Top Returner: Aaron Cruickshank (9)

Others receiving votes: Jahan Dotson (2), AJ Henning (1), Jayden Reed (1), Demario McCall (1 — my final passion play)