Big Ten morning links

Saturday can't come soon enough ...

1. Let the rivalries begin: It certainly appears as if there's no love lost between Penn State and the Big Ten's two newcomers. First, in September, Rutgers' athletic director was forced to issue an apology after a handful of fans made light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal -- and photos of the "regrettable" behavior surfaced on Rutgers' own social media pages. Then, this past Saturday, Maryland's athletic director issued a public apology when Maryland's team captains refused to shake hands with Penn State. (The Big Ten also issued a public reprimand for a pregame scuffle and Stefon Diggs was rightly suspended for one game after contact with a referee.)

I'm not condoning the actions involving the select few from either university -- both incidents are unfortunate and don't exactly highlight good sportsmanship -- but you can still bet this is making for an interesting first chapter in the book of new Big Ten rivalries. Penn State has always looked to Ohio State as its Big Ten rival ... but the Buckeyes are obviously more geared up toward Michigan. And rivalries can't be a one-way street. Rutgers and Maryland are both focused on Penn State; Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo said a win over PSU could “change New Jersey and Rutgers football forever,” while Maryland's Randy Edsall said, after beating PSU 20-19 Saturday, "You don't know what this means to our program." With this season's apparent snubs, Penn State fans and players might just start thinking about RU and UMD a bit more. The only thing these rivalry games are missing now is an ugly trophy ...

2. Big Ten RBs getting their due: Six running backs made the list of 20 Maxwell Award semifinalists, and the conference accounted for half of those RB spots. The candidates? Well, you probably already know: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Indiana's Tevin Coleman. Three finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and the winner will be announced Dec. 11. Of the three, Gordon is the best bet for the award since Abdullah is coming off an injury and Coleman no longer has any semblance of a passing game to help him out.

3. B1G trend with quarterbacks: If you're a fan of a Big Ten team that hasn't had played a backup QB due to injury or a starter's struggles, then congratulations -- because you're in the minority this season. All but three teams -- Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska -- have had to deal with injuries or something in the way of a quarterback controversy.

The latest teams to succumb to the trend are Northwestern and Rutgers. Wildcats QB Trevor Siemian was pulled Saturday in favor of Zack Oliver, and some controversy is brewing there. As for the Scarlet Knights, Gary Nova is recovering from a knee injury, so Chris Laviano has seen time in four of the last six quarters.

East Division

  • With all their offensive struggles, could the Indiana Hoosiers wind up as a 3-9 football team?

West Division

  • With Ameer Abdullah injured, Nebraska running back Imani Cross struck a positive note heading into the bye week.