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Sunday, September 7, 2008
Big Ten lessons in Week 2

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten achieved perfection in Week 2, winning all 11 games, all but one by 10 points or more. But there were some interesting moments along the way, particularly in Columbus, where Ohio State nearly squandered its national title hopes the week before the big one at the L.A. Coliseum.

Penn State has joined the mix of Big Ten power players after blocking out distractions to rout Oregon State in Happy Valley. Wisconsin continues to raise some concerns, both on the injury front and on the field, but the Badgers flexed their muscles with 51 unanswered points against Marshall. Michigan still has some issues on offense, while Minnesota has closed the book on 2007 with a 2-0 start and an impressive road win against Bowling Green.

We'll know much more about this league in Week 3, as Ohio State (USC), Wisconsin (Fresno State), Purdue (Oregon) and Michigan (Notre Dame) play showcase games. But first, here are five revelations from Saturday's games.

1. Spread HD stands for Huge Difference -- Penn State's new offense has racked up 111 points in the first two games, and quarterback Daryll Clark looks more than capable of leading the explosive unit. Clark's versatility showed against Oregon State, as he accounted for 276 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) in Saturday's 45-14 win. Redshirt freshman speedster Stephfon Green got all the preseason buzz, but sophomore Evan Royster is proving to be the team's top running threat. Royster had 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Beavers, becoming the first Penn State player to score six touchdowns in the first two games of the season since Lydell Mitchell in 1971.

2. Minnesota is turning the corner: Last year, the Gophers were the ones throwing away games. Against Bowling Green on Saturday night, they were the ones capitalizing on mistakes. Minnesota's much-maligned defense forced four second-half turnovers, and the offense converted all four into touchdowns. Quarterback Adam Weber (233 pass yards, 3 TDs, rush TD) continued to show he's the perfect fit for Mike Dunbar's Spread Coast offense, and both running back Duane Bennett and wideout Eric Decker showed their versatility in the 42-17 win.

3. Pryor not ready for clutch situations: Ohio State trailed or barely led for 54 minutes of Saturday's game against Ohio, but heralded freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor got on the field for just three plays during that span. The coaches are still hesitant about putting the amazingly talented Pryor in pressure situations, which likely will limit his availability next week against USC. He could play a role as a running quarterback in special packages, but if the game is close, which it should be, Ohio State will go with Todd Boeckman.

4. Iowa offense is much better: The competition has been weak and much like Indiana, a wait-and-see approach seems appropriate, but the Hawkeyes' offense no longer appears to be a major liability. Coach Kirk Ferentz received good performances from both of his quarterbacks Saturday, though Ricky Stanzi's poise in his first career start could be the difference for Week 3. Whoever takes the snaps has plenty of help from running backs Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton, who combined for 184 rushing yards in the 42-0 win against Florida International.

5. Wolverines D must shoulder the load: Rich Rodriguez received better play from freshman running back Sam McGuffie against Miami (Ohio), but the quarterback position remained an adventure. Backup Nick Sheridan out-performed Steven Threet on Saturday after Threet graded higher in the opener. The bottom line is an improved Wolverines defense will have to keep games close until the offense finds some sort of rhythm. Linebacker Obi Ezeh continues to make plays and the defensive line picked up three more sacks in Saturday's 16-6 victory.