Buckeyes gain inside track to title
STATE COLLEGE - The annual meeting between Ohio State and Penn State never lacks luster, as it is always one of the biggest match-ups of the season.
Then, about half an hour before kickoff, Saturday's game received some added incentive. Thanks to Northwestern's upset over then-unbeaten Iowa, the Big Ten title officially became up for grabs.
In the end it was Ohio State coming down with the 24-7 victory in front of the fourth largest crowd ever at Beaver Stadium. The Buckeyes (8-2, 5-1) will host Iowa next week with a chance to clinch their fifth consecutive conference title.
"November is for contenders," said Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. "We always say that. But it's hard to get too ecstatic right now because you know the Hawkeyes are coming to town.
"We still have that opportunity (to win the conference), but man we're a long way from that happening. We're going to go to work for it. We still have a chance. That's all you can ask for in life is a chance."
Ohio State came into Happy Valley and physically beat up the Nittany Lions (8-2, 4-2) on both sides of the ball. Daryl Clark and the Penn State offense had seven three-and-outs and managed just one good drive all day. On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes did not give up a sack and shredded the nation's best scoring defense for 353 yards.
"I knew we would have troubles," admitted Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. "We felt that the front seven of Ohio State played the run about as well as anybody we had seen, including Iowa. We knew we would have our hands full.
"Through three quarters, it was the kind of game I expected, but we didn't make the plays. Ohio State did well. They didn't turn it over and until the end they were careful with the penalties."
The Lions stumbled out of the gates and went three-and-out on their first three possessions. They had a total of 12 yards on those drives. It wasn't until their fourth drive of the game that they finally got something going.
Penn State put together an 11-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Clark jumping over the line from one yard out. However, that would be the only points the Lions would get on the day.
Clark ended up completed only 12-of-28 passes for 125 yards. Running back Evan Royster, who had been averaging 90 yards-per-game, totaled just 36 yards on 13 carries.
"Those guys were just getting after it and getting a little bit of a push early on," said Clark on Ohio State's defense. "Like I said, it just disrupted the whole offense early. I just felt that when you're not able to have a rhythm, you can't really get anything off of that.
"We thought we had a very good game plan going in and they did a good job of disrupting it and their defensive backs did a good job of getting in our guys' faces and disrupting their routes a couple of times. We were just in a little bit of disarray the whole game."
OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is originally from Jeannette, PA, came back home and played exceptionally well. He put the Buckeyes ahead early with a seven yard touchdown run following a 41-yard punt return to the PSU nine yard-line. He then threw two touchdowns in the second half, including a 62-yard bomb to DeVier Posey.
Saturday's game was the 300th in Beaver Stadium's 50-year history.