Three thoughts, projections and observations from the Big Ten this week:
1. Early look at B1G freshman of the year: Sure, it’s early. But, for fun, we project the offensive and defensive players of the year after Week 1 – so why not take a look at the freshmen? Right now, there are really two players that have made an early impact: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton. The Buckeyes have only just started to crack open the playbook for Barrett, so we’ve seen little of what the redshirt freshman is capable of doing.
Barrett (226 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) might be the favorite for the honor right now, if for no other reason than the fact he’s starting at quarterback for the Buckeyes. That position carries some weight with this award; just ask last year’s B1G freshman of the year in Christian Hackenberg. And, while you’re at it, ask him about Hamilton. Hackenberg has praised the wideout for his improvement this offseason and, last month, receivers coach Josh Gattis labeled Hamilton “one of the biggest sleepers in the Big Ten.” Hamilton could end up leading a pass-heavy Penn State offense in catches. He already has 11 for 165 yards.
2. Interesting game picks: You might have noticed that over here, at the Big Ten blog, we picked the Oregon Ducks to beat the Michigan State Spartans by a 4-1 count -- although Adam Rittenberg and I picked the game to be decided by a touchdown or less. Our pals over at the Pac-12 blog? It was split at 2-2.
It’s an interesting game -- the matchup of the weekend -- and most of us think it’s going to be a lot closer than Vegas anticipates. It’s pretty clear why. Stanford showed the blueprint on how to beat the Ducks, and Michigan State should come close to matching that with a strong defense and a solid rushing game led by Jeremy Langford. We’ll find out Saturday evening just what happens. I can’t wait.
3. Injuries – what injuries?: Let’s put Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon-Joel Stave daytime drama aside for one moment. It sure looks as if it’s getting harder to obtain reliable injury reports this season. Brady Hoke declined to discuss the injuries of Desmond Morgan, Jabrill Peppers and Jake Butt earlier this week: “Well, we’re not going to talk about any injuries.” And Penn State’s James Franklin has a policy not to discuss any injuries at any time.
The policies are understandable, of course. You don’t want to tip off opponents and you want to retain every advantage you can get. Reporting injuries isn’t mandatory in the FBS, after all. But it sure can get annoying. Let’s just hope teams don’t start following the Gary Andersen Book of Injury Reporting. Annoying is one thing; confusing is another.
When Mark Dantonio scheduled the Oregon game five years ago, he knew his team wasn't ready -- but he bet on himself, writes Detroit Free Press' Shawn Windsor.
Franklin is looking forward to his first home game at Beaver Stadium.
Key players for Ohio State when it takes on Virginia Tech on Saturday night.
A closer look at Indiana's "mystery backup quarterback."
Maryland WR Taivon Jacobs is out for the season with an injury, so Randy Edsall said the Terps will apply for a hardship waiver so he could receive an extra year of eligibility.
Notes and observations from Rutgers' practice, including how the Knights aren't overlooking Howard.
Top Northwestern wideout Tony Jones is out against Northern Illinois due to a "muscular issue in one of his legs."
Close games are ending badly for the Badgers. Since 2012, Wisconsin is 0-9 if the margin is seven or less.
With Minnesota DT Scott Epke out for the season, true freshman Steven Richardson will get his first career start this weekend.
It looked as if Purdue LB Sean Robinson "had a couple bratwursts on his knee," but an infection still can't keep the veteran down.
When it comes to attendance, Illinois is losing the numbers game.
Nebraska wasted no time in finding a new long-snapper, and the new roster addition could see some snaps this weekend.
Former Iowa LB Christian Kirksey gets the small treatment in the newest Madden game.