6:54 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014

Big Ten morning links

Bowl season is a tricky time for coaches to motivate players. “You can grind guys up if you occupy them too much mentally,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said this week. Read more from Fitzgerald and others Friday on ESPN.com about motivation in bowl season. His Wildcats, sitting home this month, would trade places with any of the 10 Big Ten bowl teams. And with that wonderful time of year to start on Saturday -- the first Big Ten bowl game is still a week away -- it makes sense to look at the factors motivating conference teams.

ESPN's Big Ten all-freshman team

The Big Ten doesn't put out an all-freshman team. But we do. Here are our picks for the top first-year players in the league in 2014: Offense QB: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Well, duh. RB: Justin Jackson, Northwestern: In the year of the running back in the Big Ten, Jackson somewhat quietly produced 1,187 yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman. RB: Curtis Samuel, Ohio State: He added to the Buckeyes' ridiculous array of skill players, running for 386 yards and six scores.

Video: Northwestern 38, Purdue 14

Kelly Stouffer and Anish Shroff break down Northwestern's 38-14 win against Purdue.