Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Wild day around the Big Ten

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Terrelle Pryor era is upon us. Joe Paterno spent the second half in the press box. Purdue and Central Michigan played a classic at Ross-Ade Stadium. Northwestern had one of the weirdest wins in recent memory. Minnesota is, like, really good. Iowa dominated the stat sheet but still lost.

And it's only 3:30 p.m.

It's been an eventful day to say the least around the Big Ten. Here's my quick take on each team as we get ready for kickoff here at Spartan Stadium.

Ohio State -- The future has arrived in Columbus, and he wears No. 2. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor emerged as the clear-cut starter after leading Ohio State past Troy in another too-close-for-comfort game. Pryor threw four touchdowns in the win, double the amount senior Todd Boeckman has this year against FBS teams. Boeckman attempted only one pass in the game. It's very un-Ohio State to put the team in the hands of a freshman, but the move could pay off down the line.

Penn State -- Paterno's ailing leg forced him to move upstairs in the second half of the Temple game. The 81-year-old could have gone home or taken a nap if he wanted to. Penn State's offense looks unstoppable, as redshirt freshman Stephfon Green became the latest player to take center stage. Sure, the Lions haven't been tested at all, but they have easily been the league's most impressive team to this point.

Purdue -- It looked like deja vu for Purdue after Central Michigan took a 25-24 lead on a gutsty 2-point conversion call by coach Butch Jones and a great catch by Antonio Brown. But the Boilermakers finally came through in the clutch, and Kory Sheets is emerging as a star. Coach Joe Tiller was understandably worried when co-starter Jaycen Taylor sustained a season-ending knee injury, but Sheets has looked more than capable of carrying the load. Kudos to Tiller for becoming Purdue's all-time winningest coach.

Minnesota -- Wow. I didn't see this coming. Florida Atlantic looked to be a good challenge for the Gophers. Guess not. Adam Weber has been arguably the Big Ten's best quarterback to this point, and Minnesota looks to have two viable running threats (Shady Salamon, DeLeon Eskridge) despite the loss of Duane Bennett. But the real story is the defense. The nation's worst unit a year ago held Florida Atlantic to 3 points and continued to force turnovers.

Iowa -- The Hawkeyes came up short in their first test of the season, and the quarterback saga continues for Kirk Ferentz's team. Sophomore Ricky Stanzi appeared to outperform starter Jake Christensen against Pitt after the opposite happened last week. Running back Shonn Greene is for real and so is the defense, but the lingering quarterback issues raise concern.

Northwestern -- The Wildcats swept the nonconference for the first time since 1963, but no one could have predicted how they did it. This team easily could be 2-2 if not for a Herculean effort from the defense under new coordinator Mike Hankwitz. Quarterback C.J. Bacher threw four interceptions today and Tyrell Sutton left the game with a lower left leg injury, but the defense turned in an incredible performance, forcing four turnovers and allowing just one touchdown despite being on the field more than 34 minutes.