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Big Ten morning links

How is it possible that half of the season is already gone? Why does it seem like time is dragging until Saturday every week? Life and football are truly mysteries.

1. Quarterback quandary: Narrowing the field seemed like it could be a blessing in the summer, with Indiana coach Kevin Wilson quick to point out the benefits of no longer needing to juggle practice reps as much now that Nate Sudfeld was the last man standing in what was once a three-man battle. But there was an obvious downside that didn't receive nearly as much attention in July as perhaps it should have, and now that an injury has struck their starter, it's clear how much the transfers of Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman hurt the Hoosiers. Roberson, experienced and proven in the Big Ten, is off putting up big numbers at Illinois State. Coffman is waiting for his chance to play for Wyoming while he sits out the season. And back at Indiana, the Hoosiers are scrambling to find somebody to put behind center this week with Michigan State's vaunted defense coming to town. The chance to focus on one guy and potentially unleash more of Sudfeld's ability was a nice silver lining, but it was apparently just a distraction from a huge storm cloud that was poised to wipe out Indiana's season.

2. Something special: There's any easy way to get Urban Meyer to gush about his team these days. All it takes is one mention of his kickoff coverage unit, and the Ohio State coach turns downright giddy by his standards. The Buckeyes have reason to be pleased with what they're getting on special teams lately, and they lead the Big Ten in net yardage on kickoffs thanks to a combination of well-positioned kicks, an aggressive scheme and a roster loaded up with speedy players willing to fly down the field and hit somebody. Meyer has always had a fondness for special teams, and he's fostered a competition for "starting positions" on the units that makes even first-teamers on offense and defense proud to contribute on punts and kickoffs. It may not draw much attention, but the Buckeyes are racking up some hidden yardage and subtly altering the field-position battle each week thanks in large part to Meyer's cover guys.

3. Best Bye: No program seems too thrilled with the double-bye schedule in place this season, but there appear to be obvious benefits for all four teams sitting out with an off date Saturday. Penn State's offensive line remains in disarray, and while it can't suddenly turn its inexperienced blockers into veterans, some extra reps and game-planning won't hurt heading into the stretch run that starts against Ohio State's tenacious defensive line next week. Wisconsin and Illinois both could use some time to work out kinks in the passing attack, with the former toying with a two-quarterback rotation and the latter trying to find the best option with Wes Lunt on the sideline. And after finally getting back in the win column, Brady Hoke might be able to take a deep breath at Michigan and enjoy at least a few moments of peace after a victory over the weekend. Out of all those options, maybe the Wolverines needed a bye the most -- unless the regents decide to stir the pot up again.

East Division

  • Michigan may have another candidate emerging for a redshirt, but since it's an injury issue, all that Brady Hoke is providing is a hint.

  • Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun might have a future as a professional wrestler if he keeps fine-tuning his suplexes on the field.

  • Darius Hamilton rarely comes off the field for Rutgers now that he's emerged as a complete defensive lineman.

  • Ohio State has been roaring out of the gates lately, and Urban Meyer made sure to thank his coaching staff for that positive development.

  • Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is ready to go again after the bye week.

  • Penn State might be getting closer to having an experienced veteran back in action to help that suspect offensive line.

  • Meet Zander Diamont, who has earned some glowing praise ahead of a likely start for Indiana.

West Division

  • Kenny Bell is starting to feel right again and is hoping to give Nebraska a lift at wide receiver.

  • Iowa has seven different players making a homecoming trip to Maryland this weekend, including safety Jordan Lomax.

  • Wisconsin could be welcoming back some key contributors soon.

  • Northwestern's success against Nebraska could be determined in the red zone.

  • A closer look at Tim Beckman's recruiting classes at Illinois and how they are panning out.

  • Minnesota senior wide receiver Isaac Fruechte has caught balls from four different quarterbacks during his career.

  • Purdue might have finally found an offensive identity.