Rosy day for Ohio State
By Greg Beacham
PASADENA, Calif. — Terrelle Pryor jumped on a golf cart and rode up the Rose Bowl tunnel in his grass-stained uniform, heading out to pick up a trophy. A clutch of departing Ohio State fans caught sight of his No. 2 jersey and let loose the sort of wild cheer Pryor always imagined would be the soundtrack to his career.
Ohio State's bowl woes were over, thanks to a quarterback who finally played up to his enormous potential — and a sturdy defense that grounded Oregon's high-flying offense.
Pryor passed for a career-high 266 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 72 more and threw a 17-yard scoring pass to DeVier Posey with 7:02 to play, ending the No. 8 Buckeyes' three-game BCS skid with a 26-17 victory over No. 7 Oregon yesterday.
"I just wanted to come out and show I can be a complete quarterback," Pryor said.
From the opening days of bowl preparation, Pryor's teammates sensed a new focus in their sophomore leader, whose much-publicized recruitment had led to two solid seasons, but not the transcendence many expected from the mobile passer. With a Rose Bowl effort that evoked memories of Vince Young's breakout performance in the same stadium four years ago, Pryor shook off his early mistakes and led the Buckeyes (11-2) confidently through a tense fourth quarter.
Turns out nothing was wrong with the Buckeyes' sophomore quarterback that winning the Rose Bowl couldn't cure.
"I think he wanted to have a game that puts him out there in the national ranks, puts him on the map," said receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who had nine catches for 64 yards. "You could see it with Terrelle in the huddle. He kept his poise and kept us moving. It's something we see in practice all the time, but everybody else can see it now, too."
Even with two Big Ten titles and two wins over Michigan, Pryor hadn't matched his hype until this steady, sometimes spectacular performance on the biggest stage of his career. His frustrations with the sometimes-staid Ohio State offense evaporated with a surprisingly wide-open game plan against Oregon (10-3), taking advantage of his legs and arm.
"As a quarterback, you don't like running the ball," Pryor said. "It's kind of like being selfish. We have great running backs, and they need to get the ball, too. ... Whatever we need, I'll do it. That's what it's about on offense."
With Ohio State nursing a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, he took charge during a 13-play, 81-yard drive eating up more than six minutes — part of the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl-record 41:37 time-of-possession advantage.
After arriving in Los Angeles, Pryor disclosed he'd been playing with a partially torn knee ligament, and he came up limping early in the game. But Pryor said the knee didn't bother him, and you sure couldn't tell by the way he played.
Yet Ohio State's defense did much of the work, limiting the Ducks' no-huddle offense to its worst passing game of the season. Jeremiah Masoli, a Saint Louis alum from Hawai'i, threw for just 81 yards and LaMichael James rushed for 70. A series of big plays kept the 96th Rose Bowl close until Pryor sealed it.
OHIO STATE 10 6 3 7—26
OREGON 0 10 7 0—17
OSU—Saine 13 pass from Pryor (Pettrey kick), 11:37.
OSU—FG Barclay 19, :34.
Ore—FG Flint 24, 14:24.
Ore—Blount 3 run (Flint kick), 9:14.
OSU—FG Barclay 30, 1:05.
OSU—FG Pettrey 45, :00.
Ore—Masoli 1 run (Flint kick), 11:03.
OSU—FG Barclay 38, 6:36.
OSU—Posey 17 pass from Pryor (Pettrey kick), 7:02.
First downs 26 12
Rushes-yards 51-153 33-179
Passing 266 81
Comp-Att-Int 23-38-1 9-20-1
Return Yards 20 33
Punts-Avg. 3-43.7 4-43.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-39 7-59
Time of Possession 41:37 18:23
RUSHING—Ohio St., Pryor 20-72, Saine 14-45, Herron 14-42, Team 3-(minus 6). Oregon, James 15-70, Barner 7-64, Blount 5-36, Masoli 6-9.
PASSING—Ohio St., Pryor 23-37-1-266, Team 0-1-0-0. Oregon, Masoli 9-20-1-81.
RECEIVING—Ohio St., Sanzenbacher 9-64, Posey 8-101, Herron 3-18, Saine 2-59, Ballard 1-24. Oregon, James 4-25, Tuinei 2-30, Barner 1-13, Maehl 1-10, D.Davis 1-3.