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Abdullah’s status still in question

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Big Ten is in what many would call a “down year.” With just four teams in the AP top-25 poll, the conference hasn’t been as dominating as fans have grown accustomed to.

But that doesn’t mean the Big Ten doesn’t have its fair share of individual talent.

Among that talent is Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, whose availability to play Saturday is still in question.

After leaving No. 11 Nebraska’s win over Purdue on Nov. 1 with a knee injury, Abdullah did not practice during Nebraska’s bye week.

But his chances of playing this Saturday are looking better, said head coach Bo Pelini.

“We’ll see on Saturday,” Pelini said on Monday. “I would anticipate him playing.”

Abdullah has rushed for 1,250 yards — fifth nationally — and 17 touchdowns this season.

The senior running back’s availability is important for the Cornhuskers, but this week it is particularly important as Nebraska prepares for its matchup with No. 22 Wisconsin.

The winner becomes the front-runner to represent the Big Ten West Division in the Big Ten championship game.

This year will also be the first season in which the two teams will compete for the Freedom Trophy, which was announced and revealed on Nov. 10.

“I would expect [Abdullah] to play,” Pelini said. “How many times am I going to be asked that? I don’t know. Seems like a lot.

“If I was a doctor with a crystal ball, I’d answer with some certainty. But I’m not.”

Stefon Diggs injury information still cloudy

Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs was suspended for one game after the Nov. 1 pregame scuffle between Penn State and Maryland players resulted in his shoving a referee.

What’s more, there are reports surfacing that Diggs suffered a lacerated kidney against Penn State as well.

“I don’t comment on injuries,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. “Stefon is suspended for this game. We’ll move forward next week.”

Diggs leads the Terrapins with 52 catches for 654 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also returns kickoffs, averaging 24 yards per return.

However, this will not be the first time Maryland is left without its star receiver. Last season, he missed the final six games with a broken leg.

“We’re in pretty good shape now,” Edsall said. “What we’ve got to do is enhance where we are.”

Illinois and academic standards

Illinois football has seen better days. In the first 33 games under head coach Tim Beckman, the Fighting Illini are 10-23, 2-19 in the Big Ten.

To many, Illinois has shown improvement this season at 4-5 — and that’s without starting quarterback Wes Lunt for four games.

One more win would mark the most wins in a single season since 2011 and the most in the Beckman Era.

On Tuesday, the third-year head coach listed one reason he believed the turn-around at Illinois has been so difficult: recruiting, or the difficulty recruiting players to a school that Beckman sees as having high academic standards.

“Academically, first and foremost, we set some standards that are above the other standards that at least I’ve been involved in,” Beckman said.

He listed other reasons for the struggles, including playing a lot of young players this season. But academics were at the forefront.

“This is a great academic institution. Our student-athletes are required to be a little bit more — I guess you’d say, test-worthy and academically worthy,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that we fight throughout our state and throughout what we call Illini Nation.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis of the Iowa football team.


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