What we learned in the Big Ten in Week 6
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Five takeaways from the week that was.
1. Terrelle Pryor can get it done under pressure -- As Ohio State prepared for its first trip to Camp Randall Stadium in five years, questions loomed about freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his ability to handle a hostile environment. Pryor found all the answers in the fourth quarter, masterfully leading the Buckeyes on the game-winning 80-yard scoring drive, which he capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run. This isn't your typical freshman, and along with Chris "Beanie" Wells, Pryor has breathed new life into a stale offense.
2. Juice Williams is the Big Ten's best quarterback -- It's been an odd year for Big Ten signal callers, but Williams has clearly moved to the top of the list. His historic performance at Michigan -- he set a Michigan Stadium record with 431 yards of total offense -- reconfirmed his reliability on the road and versatility in the pocket. The Illinois junior ranks eighth nationally in total offense (323.8 ypg), 28th in pass efficiency (146.03 rating) and 55th in rushing (80.8 ypg). Through the first six weeks, he's the clear choice for Big Ten Offensive MVP.
3. Penn State can play four quarters and find different ways to win -- Head coach Joe Paterno was in the press box, the offense was struggling to find the end zone and the starters were on the field the entire game. It wasn't a typical Penn State win, but the Lions found a way to prevail on the road, something they've struggled to do since 2000. Quarterback Daryll Clark continued to limit mistakes and an underrated defense led by embattled linebacker Josh Hull (11 tackles, all solo, 2 for loss) held Purdue to 241 yards and flustered record-setting signal caller Curtis Painter.
4. Michigan was a mirage last week -- The Wolverines' historic comeback against Wisconsin inflated opinions about a team that still has a long way to go. Illinois' explosive offense led by Williams and wide receiver Arrelious Benn exposed a Michigan defense that had done wonders through the first four games but still has some speed issues. Michigan consistently puts together a nice quarter here or there, but its inability to sustain consistency for an entire game shows the growing pains of a transitioning team.
5. Big Ten title picture coming into focus -- Ohio State's road win against struggling Wisconsin puts it firmly in the mix for a third consecutive outright Big Ten title, but the next three weeks will reveal a lot. The winner of next week's Michigan State-Northwestern game has to be in the discussion, and Penn State can confirm itself as the frontrunner by beating Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium. If Michigan State beats Northwestern, it hosts Ohio State on Oct. 18 in a showcase contest, though the Oct. 25 matchup between Ohio State and Penn State in Columbus looks to be the game of the year. It should be a lot of fun to watch.