Big Ten media picks Michigan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) - Michigan is starting right where it left off.

The defending champion Wolverines were picked by the media Wednesday as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten conference. Ohio State was second, and Iowa was third.

Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton was the preseason pick for offensive player of the year while Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk was chosen as the defensive standout.

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Michigan returns 17 starters - seven on offense, six on defense - from last year's squad, which went 7-1 on its way to its 41st conference title. It was the Wolverines' fourth Big Ten title under coach Lloyd Carr (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003).

The Buckeyes have 11 starters back from last year's team, which tied for second in the Big Ten and won the Fiesta Bowl for a second straight year. Iowa returns 11 starters, including seven on defense.

Orton is the Big Ten's leading statistical returnee in yards passing, passing efficiency and total offense. Hawk was among the top 10 in the conference with 106 tackles last year.