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Big Ten morning links

11/12/2014

We missed Veterans' Day by about eight hours, but I think we've got time for one more pride-swelling story of patriotism to tee up the links this morning.

1.Many football teams like to carry American flags with them on to the field on Saturdays. Few players have been more deserving flag bearers than Tom Hruby. The Northwestern junior is a 32-year-old active Navy SEAL. The father of three, who lives in a dorm room during the week, made his college football debut Saturday on the Wildcats' kickoff team against Michigan. Hruby talked to his teammates about being a veteran Tuesday morning after practice, which Pat Fitzgerald called "one of the most special moments" he's had as a college coach. It's hard to imagine these types of stories ever growing old.

2. Welcome to the Top 25, Minnesota. The Gophers (7-2) are the fifth Big Ten team to join the College Football Playoff rankings this week. At No. 25, they find themselves almost as tangled up in playoff implications as any team in the nation this week. On Saturday, Minnesota hosts No. 8 Ohio State, the Big Ten's best remaining hope to land a spot in the playoff this season. A Gophers' win would severely damage the league's chance for a playoff bid.

One team that certainly will be cheering for Jerry Kill this weekend is TCU. The fourth-ranked Horned Frogs are ranked higher than Baylor (despite losing to the Bears, 61-58) because of a better nonconference schedule. A Minnesota win this weekend would make TCU's defeat of the Gophers in September an even stronger bargaining chip at the playoff table.

3. It's been a truly rotten year for quarterbacks at Indiana. Along with losing starter Nate Sudfeld and back-up Chris Covington to injuries, the Hoosiers also lost two others to transfers earlier in the year. One of them, Tre Roberson, has scored 22 touchdowns and totaled more than 2,100 yards of offense at Illinois State. Meanwhile, true freshman Zander Diamont has struggled to pilot the offense in a recent 0-3 stretch in which the Hoosiers have scored only three offensive touchdowns. Penn State didn't allow the Hoosiers' offense any points on Saturday, then kicked them in the teeth once more on the way out door -- a few days after the game Indiana's top quarterback recruit, three-star Tommy Stevens, switched his commitment to the Nittany Lions. That makes quarterback loss No. 5 this season.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the Big Ten...

East Division

West Division