Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio watches the action against Rutgers during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 49-0. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis
November 15, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) Big Ten quarterbacks took a big beating last week.

No. 4 Michigan, trying to win its first Big Ten championship since 2004, might have to get by with a backup after Wilton Speight injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in last week's surprising loss to Iowa .

Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong Jr. has a left hamstring problem. And Maryland's Perry Hills (left shoulder) is banged up, too.

The injury to Speight comes at an inopportune time for the Wolverines (9-1, 6-1), considering what's at stake and how well he has played.

Michigan can capture the league championship and probably a spot in college football's four-team playoff by beating Indiana on Saturday, No. 2 Ohio State on the road and winning the conference title game. The Wolverines' chances would be better with Speight, but several outlets reported that he broke his collarbone in last week's 14-13 loss at Iowa. Coach Jim Harbaugh would not confirm that on Tuesday, saying he remains questionable for the game against the Hoosiers.

''We'll evaluate after that,'' Harbaugh said.

Speight, who has completed more than 62 percent of his passes for 2,156 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions, was injured getting tackled on a fourth-quarter scramble against Iowa. Assuming he is sidelined, Michigan would figure to go with John O'Korn or Shane Morris, who have played sparingly this season.

Armstrong went from getting knocked unconscious in a blowout loss to Ohio State to delivering an inspired, painful performance for Nebraska (8-2, 5-2) in last week's 24-17 win over Minnesota .

He hurt his left ankle on a sneak in the third quarter. Armstrong came back to lead the winning 91-yard drive, but was carried to the sideline by two offensive linemen after tweaking his left hamstring tumbling into the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown.

''With the hamstring, we won't know until he can try it,'' coach Mike Riley said. ''And he's not in a position to try it yet.''

Ryker Fyfe is taking first-team snaps this week with Zack Darlington backing him up as the Cornhuskers prepare to host Maryland. Armstrong is day to day.

The same goes for the Terrapins' quarterback. Hills is day-to-day after he injured his left shoulder in the first quarter against Ohio State last week , and the drop-off between him and his backups is a big one. Hills, who has also dealt with a right shoulder injury, has three interceptions over 147 attempts. Reserves Caleb Rowe and true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome have been picked off five times over a collective 56 throws.

''We've been in this mode for several weeks now (with Hills),'' coach D.J. Durkin said. ''He's played well for us at times even with the injury, and obviously he's gotten dinged up at times in games, too.''

REMEMBERING FOLTZ

Nebraska will honor its seniors on Saturday, and late punter Sam Foltz figures to be on the Cornhuskers' minds.

''The passing of Sam Foltz has become kind of part of our daily thought process,'' Riley said. ''There's not a day, I don't think, that goes by that we don't think about Sam and appreciate him.''

An All-Big Ten punter, Foltz died in a car crash in Wisconsin on July 23 along with former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.

TOUGH TWOSOME

The seven-game losing streak that derailed the season for Michigan State (3-7, 1-6) ended with a shutout over Rutgers. The schedule is about to get tougher with two games left - and both against top 10 teams.

The Spartans host No. 2 Ohio State, which will be out to avenge a loss last year that kept the Buckeyes out of the national championship hunt, on Saturday. After that, Michigan State visits No. 9 Penn State.

''I understand where (Ohio State is) at in the big scheme of things,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ''I understand where Penn State's at. The road may go through East Lansing a little bit, I guess. But I just look at it as an opportunity to play and be challenged by great football teams.''

CARR'S CATCHES

From walk-on to one of the nation's best, Northwestern receiver Austin Carr is having quite a senior season.

He is tied for sixth in the country in touchdown catches, and ranks ninth in both yards receiving (1,102) and receptions per game (7.5) and 10th in yards per game (110.2).

''We didn't recruit him,'' coach Pat Fitzgerald said, laughing. ''He got here on his own and he called us. He's one of those cool, cool, just unbelievable, success stories in college football this year - a young man that was not recruited at all, applies, gets into school and cold calls us and says, `Hey, I'd like to try to maybe walk onto the team. How do I do that?' And the rest is kind of history.''

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