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Penn v. Ohio should be another slugfest

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Associated Press
November 4, 2009
— JoePa vs. Jim Tressel. Daryll Clark vs. Terrelle Pryor. The best defense in the Big Ten against the league’s second-best unit.

It looks like Saturday’s game between No. 11 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State should be another star-powered, high-stakes slugfest.


The winner remains alive in the Big Ten race, in position to pounce should undefeated Iowa falter in the last three weeks of the season.


The loser probably says goodbye to a shot at a BCS bowl—not that Paterno is trying to heap more pressure on his No. 11 Nittany Lions (8-1,


4-1).


“Well, the consequences of the winning and the losing of it are obvious to everybody, but you can’t go at it that way,” Paterno said Tuesday. “I think we just got to say, ‘Hey, let’s play it. Go out there and have a little fun. Let’s not beat ourselves. ... What happens afterward happens.’ ”


If recent history in this series is any indication, the latest edition of one of the Big Ten’s highest-profile rivalries could be another last-minute thriller.


Like safety Mark Rubin’s fourth-quarter hit on quarterback Pryor last year that caused a fumble in Buckeye territory to set up Penn State’s go-ahead touchdown in a 13-6 win.


In 2005, defensive end Tamba Hali’s forced fumble with 1:21 to play cemented Penn State’s 17-10 win in 2005.


Michael Jenkins’ 5-yard TD catch with 1:35 left lifted Ohio State to a 21-20 win two years earlier, overcoming Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis’ 78-yard interception return.


The common theme in each of those games: big defensive plays—just how Nittany Lions linebacker Sean Lee likes it.


“For sure, a tough physical game that’s going to come down to a few mistakes,” Penn State’s defensive captain said.


As if a game against Ohio State (7-2, 4-1) needed any more intrigue, this year’s meeting includes two new wrinkles.


Saturday’s game will be the 300th in the 50-season history of Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 241-58 at the stadium since it opened in 1960.


There’s also the return of western Pennsylvania native Pryor to his home state for the first time since the sophomore spurned Paterno two years ago in one of the most closely watched recruiting contests in recent memory.


Iowa’s Stanzi keeps winning

Don’t like the way Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi is playing? Give it a little time.


At times, Stanzi can look awful. Like last week, when he threw four interceptions in the third quarter against Indiana to help put the eighth-ranked Hawkeyes in a 10-point hole.


Then there is Good Ricky, the guy who bailed Iowa out by tossing two long TDs on consecutive throws to give his team a lead it would not relinquish in beating the Hoosiers 42-24.


Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has long since tired of defending Stanzi, and he never considered pulling him against Indiana, despite all those picks.


Ferentz views Stanzi as the resilient leader of a team that keeps finding ways to win, and though Stanzi’s individual numbers aren’t pretty—like the Hawkeyes—it’s tough to dispute Ferentz’s belief in him.


Stanzi, a 6-foot-4 junior from Mentor, Ohio, is 17-3 as a starter and has led the Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) to 13 straight wins, the second-longest streak in the country.


“He does have a rare ability, when he struggles, to come right back and just keep pushing forward, much like a relief pitcher,” Ferentz said.


Extra points

-- Notre Dame’s high-flying offense got one of its most potent players back with the return of receiver Michael Floyd. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore was second in the nation in receiving yards at 160 yards a game when he broke his left collarbone trying to make a catch against Michigan State on Sept. 19. On Monday night, Floyd was cleared to play when the Irish (6-2) host Navy (6-3) on Saturday.


-- Sophomore tailback Darrell Scott, the biggest recruiting prize in coach Dan Hawkins’ four-year tenure at Colorado, is leaving the program after 1˝ season filled with injuries and frustration.


-- Veteran Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, 68, is hanging up his whistle after 47 years coaching, including 26 years with the Seminoles.


The architect of some of the nation’s best defenses that helped Florida State win a pair of national titles in the 1990s, Andrews announced his decision Tuesday in a handwritten statement.


-- Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh has been disciplined by the team after being ticketed for negligent driving for ramming three parked cars with his sport utility vehicle over the weekend.


Suh, a fifth-year senior and one of the team leaders, told police he swerved to avoid hitting a dog or cat crossing the street when his 2003 Land Rover hit the first of three cars on a Lincoln street. Police said Suh had alcohol in his system, but he tested well below the legal limit.



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