Big Ten football short takes

  • Updated: November 1, 2013 - 12:18 AM

• Penn State will try shoring up its defense against Illinois on Saturday before visiting Minnesota next week. The Nittany Lions have allowed at least 40 points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1899. Out of those came a 43-40, four-overtime victory over Michigan and losses to Indiana (44-24) and Ohio State (63-14). Penn State Quarterback Christian Hackenberg injured his right shoulder last week against Ohio State, but he’s expected to play against Illinois.

• The Gophers have yet to have a player ejected for targeting an opponent’s head, but there have been 39 such ejections in FBS games this year, including two in the Big Ten — issued to Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste. With many pushing to change the rule, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has the best idea: Have referees issue yellow (warning) and red (ejection) cards the way they do in soccer.

• Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is the only Big Ten player among 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top player. The Pac-12 has five finalists (including Marcus Mariota), the SEC has four (including Johnny Manziel), the ACC has two (including Jameis Winston), and the Big 12 has two (including Lache Seastrunk).

JOE CHRISTENSEN

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