Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Northwestern has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game at Michigan State (ESPN2, noon ET).
T Mike Boyle, back
RB Alex Daniel, ankle (out for season)
LB Ben Johnson, leg
LB Bryce McNaul, leg
S Brendan Smith, hand
CB Justan Vaughn, leg
DT Jack DiNardo, shoulder
Injuries to key defensive players have hurt Northwestern all season, and Smith is the latest to go down. The three-year starter injured his hand last week against Miami (Ohio) and did not return. He's not expected to sit out too much time, but his playmaking ability will be missed. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Brian Peters has done an excellent job as the third safety this season and will slide into the starting spot next to Brad Phillips. The losses of Johnson, Vaughn and McNaul thin the depth at linebacker and cornerback, but none of the players are starters. The good news on the report is the absence of starting defensive end Corey Wootton, who missed most of the Miami game with an ankle injury. Wootton, a preseason All-America candidate, is still looking for his first sack this season.