• Hill Murray grad Jack Cichy was playing like a potential first-team All-Big Ten selection for Wisconsin before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in last week’s win over Iowa. In seven games, the sophomore led the Badgers with 60 tackles, including seven tackles for a loss. Cichy’s replacement at inside linebacker will be Ryan Connelly, another walk-on from Eden Prairie.
• Another walk-on success story is Northwestern receiver Austin Carr, who leads the Big Ten with 102.9 receiving yards per game. He has 50 catches and nine touchdowns. The 6-1, 195-pound junior from Benicia, Calif., was the Wildcats’ second leading receiver last year with 302 yards. Besides Carr, Northwestern has the Big Ten’s leading rusher (Justin Jackson, 792 yards) and a vastly improved sophomore QB in Clayton Thorson.
• Gophers coach Tracy Claeys predicts the Big Ten West title winner will finish with two conference losses. While unstated, the prediction assumes undefeated Nebraska will lose at least one of these next two games at Wisconsin at Ohio State. This will definitely be a test for the Huskers, whose wins over Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue have come by just a combined 44 points.