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Clutch players to watch in the Big Ten this fall

8/1/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Here's a party of five not to bet against at crunch time this season: 

P.J. Hill, RB, Wisconsin -- Hill rushed for 73 second-half yards against Iowa as Wisconsin rallied in the fourth quarter to win 17-13 last September. The next week, he racked up 155 yards and two touchdowns as the Badgers held off Michigan State. 

Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue -- Big games have been Painter's bugaboo thus far, but he'll have plenty of chances to redeem himself as a senior. Coming off a record-setting performance in Purdue's 51-48 win in the Motor City Bowl, Painter should improve his clutch status this fall. 

Austin Starr, PK, Indiana -- Don't give this guy a chance to beat you. Last season he made 21 of 23 field-goal attempts, including a game-winner against Purdue. He didn't miss once on 48 extra-point attempts. 

Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State -- Wells saved his best for big games last season, punishing Michigan for 222 yards at the Big House. He also was one of few bright spots for the Buckeyes in the BCS title game, racking up 146 rushing yards, including a 65-yard scoring dash. 

Juice Williams, QB, Illinois -- Williams earned more clutch cred in one game than most players garner in a career. He threw for four touchdowns in a road upset of No. 1 Ohio State and convinced coach Ron Zook to go for it on fourth-and-inches in the closing minutes. Williams got the first down and the win, which helped Illinois reach the Rose Bowl.