Post-bye week game has not been friendly to the Big Ten

The coaches of the Big Ten had been lobbying for years to get a bye week in their teamsâÄô 12-game schedule before finally having their wish granted early last December . Eight weeks into the 2008 season, however, they may be questioning the decision to push so hard for a weekend off. The underlying logic of a bye week was sound âÄî giving players a week off in the middle of the season to recuperate from injury and fatigue was a smart thing to do, and teams will be sharper for their bowl games with less lag time between the regular season and postseason play. So far this year, however, all the bye week has done for teams is wreak havoc on their progress. Six Big Ten teams have been through a bye week. Only one has come out the other side with a victory; Michigan topped Wisconsin 27-25 on Sept. 27, but both teams were off the previous week. MinnesotaâÄôs fate following a week off is unknown; its bye was last weekend. The Gophers will resume conference play Saturday at Purdue. Still riding the momentum of a 27-20 upset over Illinois, they will try to avoid having their momentum stopped as other teams have. After all, when the Badgers lost, they were ranked ninth in the country and were off to a 3-0 start. Indiana was 2-0 before its post-bye-week loss to Ball State ; Northwestern was 5-0 before a 37-20 defeat at the hands of Michigan State ; and Illinois was handled by Penn State after a 2-1 start (the loss was to Missouri, 52-42). Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster has to be wary of a similar letdown, but he said he was happy with how the bye week went. âÄúI wanted them to come back fresh, ready to go and ready to play,âÄù he said. âÄúWe practiced [Monday] and we just had an outstanding practice, tremendous spirit and energy and it was exactly what I wanted. âÄúI think everybodyâÄôs searching for that magical schedule in the bye week,âÄù he said. âÄú âÄòWhat do you do in the bye week?âÄô âÄù Brewster thinks heâÄôs found the answer: He and the Gophers will learn if thatâÄôs the case this weekend as they try to put an end to the Big TenâÄôs new habit of post-bye-week struggles. Injury report ItâÄôs quarterback troubles galore around the Big Ten this week. Purdue quarterback Joey Elliott , who replaced a struggling Curtis Painter last Saturday before leaving with a separated shoulder, will likely miss the remainder of the season but shouldnâÄôt need surgery, Boilermakers head coach Joe Tiller said Tuesday. âÄúThe diagnosis of his injury went all the way from a fifth-degree separation âĦ to now a third-degree and non-surgical,âÄù Tiller said. âÄúSo that’s good for Joey. That’s good for us. But it eliminates him.âÄù Painter will start Saturday with Justin Siller now as his backup. Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said his starting quarterback, Steven Threet , should be back at the helm of the offense Saturday against Michigan State despite leaving in the third quarter of the WolverinesâÄô loss to Penn State last weekend. Threet bruised the elbow on his throwing arm Oct. 11 against Toledo; hereâÄôs how he described the injury to the Ann Arbor News, pointing to his arm just above the elbow. âÄúBasically from about here down, my whole hand tingles,âÄù he said. âÄúIt’s not necessarily pain, because you can play through pain, but I can’t grip a ball.âÄù He expects to be able to by Saturday; the redshirt freshman is listed as the starter on the depth chart released Monday. Completing the trifecta of injured quarterbacks, Indiana head coach Bill Lynch called Kellen Lewis questionable for SaturdayâÄôs contest against Northwestern because of a high ankle sprain. Lewis did some light work on Monday, but Lynch said it wouldnâÄôt be known until later in the week whether his junior quarterback would be full strength by the weekend. âÄúHeâÄôs been working around the clock with our training staff to get healthy,âÄù Lynch said.