Time is fluid. Waiting in the dentist’s office can make an hour last forever. The last minute of a game can seem to go on and on. But nothing makes time go faster than an injury. The rehab and treatment never has enough time, and right up to the kickoff the medical staff is working to get the players to the point where they can safely go.
There’s a ton of big games around the conference this week and there’s been a lot of work in the training rooms to let them be decided on the field. Let’s take a look.
DeAndre Thompkins, WR, Penn State
Gravity isn’t the friend of wide receivers. DeAndre Thompkins took a very hard fall on a jump in the Nittany Lions’ big win against Ohio State, and while Penn State hasn’t detailed the injury, it kept him out last week. This week against Iowa, Thompkins will be needed more and there’s still no word about whether he will play. Not having him takes away a big deep threat for the Nittany Lions in what should be a close game. Look for Thompkins in warmups because he could be a difference-maker. There’s also late word that Mike Gesicki, Penn State’s top tight end, is a game-time decision as well.
Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois
Malik Turner, WR, Illinois
Up and down the roster, the Illini are really banged up. On the offensive side, there are still a lot of questions at quarterback. Wes Lunt is back at practice after missing a few weeks with a back issue, but there’s not a lot of hope that he’ll be ready. The team will push it all the way to game time before naming a starter, but expect it to be Jeff George Jr. again.
Malik Turner would be the guy who Lovie Smith would want catching the ball from Lunt or George, but Turner is in the Big Ten concussion protocol and may not be available. Turner took a big hit last week and left on a stretcher. But remember that concussions are difficult to read. As bad as the hit on Turner was, it doesn’t mean the concussion will keep him out any longer than some less dramatic head trauma.
George Kittle, TE, Iowa
Jon Wisnieski, TE, Iowa
Losing any player is bad. Losing two at the same position is often a crushing blow, especially at a position like tight end that is both critical and lacks depth. The Hawkeyes have hopes that George Kittle will be back, because they just don’t have Jon Wisnieski back all the way from his preseason knee injury. Kittle has been missing with an ankle injury, so getting both ready to play this week for Penn State would help the whole offense in a key game. Both are technically game-time decisions, but I expect both to be available.