Big Ten notebook | Franklin and Bielema talk to reporters, league receivers transfer

At their weekly press conferences, Illinois and Penn State head football coaches Bret Bielema and James Franklin previewed their teams’ matchup slated for Saturday.

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Jerod Ringwald

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema listens to a question during day one of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Thursday, July 22.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor


The 2021 college football season hasn’t been kind to the University of Illinois. The Fighting Illini are currently 2-5. From Sept. 4-25, they suffered through a four-game losing streak.

Illinois’ lone wins of the season came against Nebraska Aug. 28 and Charlotte Oct. 2.

At a meeting with reporters Monday, Illinois head football coach Bret Bielema’s frustrations seemed to boil over.

The former Hawkeye blasted his 2021 Illini squad, noting that their roster has a bevy of issues.

“I don’t believe we have a player in the two-deep that they’ve recruited here over the last three years that is really significantly doing anything for us in the playing department,” Bielema said. “That’s a major concern.”

Illinois will host No. 7 Penn State at Beaver Stadium in State College at 11 a.m. Saturday. Penn State and No. 11 Iowa are the only ranked teams Illinois has left on its schedule.

The Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini will play each other at Kinnick Stadium Nov. 20.

Purdue football ranked in AP Poll

For the first time since 2007, Purdue University’s football team is ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Boilermakers are the nation’s 25th-best team, according to AP pollsters.

Purdue is 4-2 on the season. The Boilermakers’ wins have come against Oregon State, UConn, Illinois, and then-No. 2 Iowa. Purdue has lost to Minnesota and then-No. 10 Notre Dame.

The only ranked teams left on the Boilermakers’ 2021 schedule are No. 9 Michigan State and No. 5 Ohio State. Purdue will take on the Spartans and Buckeyes in back-to-back weeks, starting Nov. 6 and ending Nov. 13.

Six of the Big Ten’s 14 football teams were ranked in this week’s AP poll.

Penn State yet to declare starting QB for Week 8

Penn State football’s Ta’Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux have been splitting first-team reps at quarterback ahead of the Nittany Lions’ matchup with Illinois Saturday. Penn State head coach James Franklin has yet to officially name a starting QB for his team’s Oct. 23 matchup with the Fighting Illini.

Roberson most recently played in Penn State’s Oct. 9 loss to then-No. 2 Iowa. He entered the game in the second quarter after Nittany Lion starter Sean Clifford exited with an injury. 

Roberson completed seven of his 21 pass attempts against the Hawkeyes, racking up 34 yards and two interceptions. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound New Jerseyan also accumulated 27 yards on 10 rushes.

Franklin has not disclosed the nature of Clifford’s injury. No timetable has been set for Clifford’s return — though Franklin has not officially ruled him out of Penn State’s contest with Illinois.

“We are going to split the reps between Ta’Quan and Veilleux,” Franklin told PennLive. “We’ll split the reps. I think someone asked me that question the other day about, ‘Will it be a competition?’ I think it’s always a competition, but it’s probably magnified a little bit. We’re looking at those guys very closely in practice and the scrimmage periods and things like that. So, we will split those reps between those two evenly and make it a competition.”

Roberson is a redshirt sophomore and Veilleux is a true freshman.

“I haven’t even talked to the players about that yet, haven’t talked to my team about that yet,” Franklin said of his quarterback situation. “We haven’t even really had a full-speed practice to do that. But obviously, no different than any other situation. You’d like to make the decision as early as you can. We’re not in position to do that right now, so those reps will be divided evenly and once we know that it’s clear, then we’ll make the decision and go from there.”

Two Big Ten receivers enter transfer portal

Wisconsin and Indiana wide receivers Devin Chandler and Da’Shaun Brown have entered the transfer portal per USA Today and Rivals.

Chandler is a redshirt freshman and the third member of the Badgers’ 2020 recruiting class to enter the transfer portal. He caught just two passes in six total games at Wisconsin.

Like Chandler, Brown is also a redshirt freshman. He missed the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL. Brown has played just two games as a Hoosier.

Both Chandler and Brown have not announced where they intend to transfer to.

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