Big Ten Notebook: Penn State in good shape


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It’s been a good two weeks for Penn State. On Sept. 8, the NCAA announced the team’s ban from postseason play had been lifted. Then the Nittany Lions kicked off Big Ten play with a 13-10 victory over Rutgers.

In that game, quarterback Christian Hackenberg eclipsed 300 passing yards, and DaeSean Hamilton caught 8 passes for 103 yards. The wide receiver is averaging 112.3 yards per game this season.

On the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday morning, Penn State head coach James Franklin said the receiver’s quick progression has been a bit of a surprise.

“We’re developing some playmakers at the wide-out position, which was a huge question mark coming into the year,” Franklin said. “There was a buzz about him this summer … We didn’t really even see flashes of [talent] until preseason started.”

Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel — who has tallied 13 total tackles this season — is also receiving some attention from around the conference.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said the senior is as good as any player in the country. Zettel and the Penn State defense allowed just over 100 rushing yards to the Scarlet Knights.

“When you turn the film on right away, you realize they’re really good up front,” Flood said. “We didn’t do enough on [Zettel].”

Injuries aplenty for Minnesota

After Minnesota lost on the road last week at TCU, head coach Jerry Kill said his starting running back, David Cobb, had been limited in practice during the week leading up to the contest because of an ankle injury.

Kill also announced senior Zac Epping has an ankle injury and is questionable for Saturday’s game against San Jose State.

Perhaps the most significant injury to any Gopher is starting quarterback Mitch Leidner’s turf-toe injury. Kill said he will play Saturday as long as he’s 100-percent. (There originally were reports he had a broken toe, but Kill denied those.)

“He’s playing with a knee injury and so forth, and we’ll see if he can move around and do what he did last week. He was 100-percent,” Kill said. “He was ready to go, and we didn’t do a great job of protecting him, and backs didn’t block very well, and he got hit too many times, so we’ll have to get that taken care of.”

Leidner left the Sept.13 game early because of the injury after going 12-of-26 for 151 yards and 3 interceptions. He was also sacked twice. Backup Chris Streveler completed 2-of-3 passes for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Northwestern tries to get back on track

After a very rocky fall camp — to put it lightly — and an 0-2 start, the Northwestern football team is one of the most desperate teams in the Big Ten.

Even though that camp was tough, head coach Pat Fitzgerald said his team was in good shape heading into the team’s opener, but quickly lost its edge on the field.

“We lost two games, that’s how [the edge] was lost … Not to be successful on the field Saturdays is how we lost it,” Fitzgerald said. “How we’re trying to get it back? We’re really driving our guys to get it back on every single rep.”

If there is a weekend to break out of the funk, this is the one to do so, as the Wildcats are scheduled to host Football Championship Subdivision opponent Western Illinois on Saturday in Evanston, Illinois.

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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