We're taking a look at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten team. Indispensable doesn’t necessarily mean best. The goal is to identify players who would be hardest to replace between now and the start of the season if they suffered an injury, were lost to suspension, joined the Night's Watch, etc.
Whether it’s from a particular player’s individual value or lack of depth at a position, we’re picking two guys from each team who fit the bill -- usually offense and defense, but not always.
Next up: the Iowa Hawkeyes
QB C.J. Beathard: In just a few weeks' time, Beathard went from backup quarterback to indispensable player. That's because Kirk Ferentz and his staff anointed Beathard as No. 1 on the depth chart shortly after the TaxSlayer Bowl, prompting two-year starter Jake Rudock to bolt. The plan had better work, because there's no experience behind Beathard. Redshirt freshman Tyler Wiegers is likely the next man up, and beyond that it's true freshmen. So this season looks like Beathard or bust in Iowa City.
C Austin Blythe: One of the league's top centers, Blythe is here as much for his leadership and stability as as his ability. The Hawkeyes lost both starting tackles from a year ago, including superstar Brandon Scherff, and much of the team's success this season could ride on the shoulders of new sophomore bookends Ike Boettger and Boone Myers. Still, Blythe will be the one holding this group together, and if something were to keep him out of the lineup, Iowa's offensive line would suddenly go from question mark to code red.