Demotion of Illinois QB adds variable to Saturday’s game

Illinois coach Ron Turner announced Monday that QB Jon Beutjer will not start.

Dan Miller

Minnesota’s defensive linemen won’t have a quarterback’s picture to hang over their lockers this week.

Illinois coach Ron Turner announced Monday that he will change his quarterback against Minnesota on Saturday, leaving the job open to his three backups.

Senior quarterback Jon Beutjer was demoted after throwing three second-half interceptions in last week’s 30-19 loss to Michigan.

Turner will look at sophomore Chris Pazan, redshirt freshman Brad Bower and sophomore Tim Brasic.

“We talked to them a little bit the other day. Jon was disappointed, of course, and he’s going to be,” Turner said. “The others are excited about the opportunity.”

Minnesota coach Glen Mason said Tuesday that the Gophers would prepare defensively for the normal Illinois system.

“I don’t know who we’re going to play,” Mason said.

Pazan and Bower both have some experience for the Illini, but Brasic hasn’t seen any action.

Pazan was 4-for-6 for 12 yards, playing part of the game in Minnesota’s 36-10 win in Champaign, Ill., last year.

After a series of close losses, Turner said, the Illini will continue making changes to their lineup.

“We’re always evaluating what we’re doing, and if someone is not getting it done, we’ll give someone else a chance,” Turner said.

Meeting in secret

The Gophers’ captains called a players-only meeting Sunday after their 51-17 loss to Michigan State.

“We just got the point across that we worked too hard this summer (to lose like that),” linebacker Terrance Campbell said. “We lost two straight games. But there’s nothing we can do about that, so let’s win the rest of them.”

Mason said he was concerned about his players’ condition mentally after the two straight losses.

Big Ten BCS talk

Three Big Ten teams were listed in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings announced Tuesday.

Wisconsin (7-0, 4-0) leads the pack with a sixth-place ranking in the poll – the same as its Associated Press ranking.

Purdue (6-1, 3-1) was No. 12, and Michigan (6-1, 4-0) came in at No. 13.

Despite his team’s high rank after beating the Boilermakers on Saturday, Badgers coach Barry Alvarez shot down any Bowl Championship Series or national championship talk Tuesday.

“There is a lot of football to be played,” he said. “It’s way too early to get too involved and wrapped up in the BCS.”