Ohio State In Control of the Big Ten Title: A Topsy-Turvy Day In The Big Ten
The Big Ten's topsy-turvy day has come to an end.
No. 4 Iowa saw it's magical run come to an end at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats; Illinois continued its renaissance by holding on to beat the Gophers on the road; Western Michigan was no match for the "oh so close" Spartans; Purdue became the only team to sweep both Ohio State and Michigan this season; and Wisconsin held off a scrappy Indiana team.
Then there was the big game in State College...
No. 16 Ohio State 24, No. 11 Penn State 7
The game of the day was a pseudo elimination game in the Big Ten title race. A hungry Ohio State traveled to Happy Valley to take on a Nittany Lion squad that was desperate to prove all doubters wrong.
Turns out the doubters were partially correct.
Penn State quarterback Darryl Clark, a two year starter, has not played well in big games for the Nits in his tenure.
In fact, Clark really had no signature win on his resume. It was Pat Devlin who lead Penn State to the victory at Ohio State last season after Clark left the game in the third quarter with a concussion with the Buckeyes up 6-3.
For the Buckeye signal caller, this game was about redemption.
Terrelle Pryor, a Pennsylvania native who spurned his home state university to play for the Buckeyes, failed his first test against Penn State in 2008.
It was Pryor's fumble on a 4th-and-1 that set up the Nittany Lions go ahead touchdown. And it was Pryor's last second interception in the endzone that sealed the loss.
The image of Pryor with his head in his hands on the Buckeye bench after the game is hard to forget and a Penn State marketing organization had even printed t-shirts commemorating the moment.
Terrelle Pryor got his redemption and in the process reminded Penn State fans why they wanted him to choose his home state college.
"This was my first time to lead the team and lead the offense and score some touchdowns against another big team," Pryor said. "It felt pretty good to lead the team."
Pryor finished the game with 125 yards passing with two touchdowns and rushed for another 50 yards, including a seven-yard scoring scamper to put the Buckeyes up 7-0 early.
Pryor was helped tremendously by an Ohio State offensive line that has been suspect at times this season. The line didn't allow the Penn State defense to get any pressure on Pryor, keeping him sack free for the first time all season and opened up some nice holes in the running game.
The Buckeyes had 228 yards rushing including good performances from both Brandon Saine, who led all backs with 58 yards and Daniel Herron, who broke off a nice 16-yard run before leaving the game with what appears to be re-aggravation of an ankle injury.
The Ohio State defense did not allow the Nittany Lions to get into any rhythm on offense, allowing Penn State only 201 yards of total offense.
The Buckeye front four got constant pressure on Clark and held running back Evan Royster to only 36 yards on the ground and smothered Clark's receivers (except for Graham Zug seven catches, 96 yards). Cameron Heyward was a beast finishing with two sacks and 11 tackles for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is now in the drivers seat for their fifth consecutive Big Ten Championship and will "welcome" the Iowa Hawkeyes to the 'Shoe next week for the Big Ten "Championship Game."
Northwestern 17, No. 4 Iowa 10
The magic finally ran out for the Hawkeyes who not only drop their first game of the season, but also lose their quarterback (and 4th quarter comeback machine) Ricky Stanzi with a high ankle sprain.
Initial word out of Iowa City is that Stanzi will be out at least a week meaning the Hawkeyes will travel to Columbus and try to beat the Buckeyes with redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg.
No. 21 Wisconsin 31, Indiana 28
John Clay rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown and Montee Ball added 115 yards and two more scores on the ground as the Badgers held off Hoosier team that hasn't yet learned to close the deal.
The loss was another big blow to Indiana's faint and fading bowl hopes. The Hoosiers have lost three conference games this season by a combined total of seven points and now must win their final two games, at Penn State and home against rival Purdue, to become bowl-eligible.
Purdue 38, Michigan 36
Joey Elliott has done something former NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, and Curtis Painter never did in their careers at Purdue...beat the Wolverines in the Big House. In fact, no Purdue quarterback since Bob Griese in 1966 has accomplished the feat.
Elliott threw for a career-high 367 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, leading Purdue to a 38-36 comeback win over the floundering Wolverines. Michigan is now in danger of missing a bowl game for the second straight season. The Wolverines must either beat Wisconsin in Madison or Ohio State at the Big house to get to the six win plateau.
Illinois 35, Minnesota 32
The Illini defense sacked Adam Weber seven times (including four by Clay Nurse) and Jacob Charest threw for 185 yards and a touchdown in relief of an injured Juice Williams to lift a surging Illinois past the hot and cold Gophers.
After throwing for 416 yards and five TDs in a breakout game against Michigan State last week, Weber completed just five of 17 passes for 74 yards with a fumble and a pick six in the first half. He finished 14 of 30 for 221 yards.
Michigan State 49, Western Michigan 14
The Spartans got huge games out of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was 22 of 25 for 353 yards and two touchdowns and seldom used sophomore running back Ashton Leggett, who rushed for 110 yards and four touchdowns.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid and gave Michigan State some momentum heading into the season's final two games, at Purdue next week and then home against Penn State.
The Spartans need one more win to become bowl eligible.
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