Saturday, October 3, 2009

PRYOR, BUCKEYES THRASH HOOSIERS

Photo by the Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After nearly taking down Michigan the week before and putting up 33 points and 467 yards on the Wolverines' defense, the upstart Indiana Hoosiers were feeling mighty good about themselves going into Saturday night's showdown against the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes.


Unfortunately for the Hoosiers — and their faithful fans — they learned two very valuable lessons in their game with the Buckeyes. Michigan isn't Ohio State and Tate Forcier isn't Terrelle Pryor.


The Buckeyes used a smothering defense and a stellar all-around performance by Pryor to bring the Hoosiers back to reality, as OSU riddled Indiana, 33-14, in front of an amped up crowd of 51,500 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.


The Buckeyes starting defense held the high powered Hoosiers' offense in check all game long, surrendering just seven points and 228 yards total in the win, including only 18 on the ground. The other Indiana touchdown came in garbage time when the OSU reserves were in the game and the outcome was already decided.


OSU's defense stifled Indiana running back, Darius Willis — who had a huge game last week against Michigan — holding the Hoosiers' red-shirt freshman to only 23 yards on 11 carries, with his longest gain of the night being seven yards. Ohio State has surrendered just 13, 82 and 18 yards rushing in the past three games.


Indiana head coach, Bill Lynch, stated that OSU's defense was as good as advertised.


"(Ohio State's defense) is as good as any in the nation," Lynch said. "You know, if you watch tape, that's how they play everyone. That's how they played USC. We had one drive tonight, that's what USC had against them. (USC) scored on a 1-yard drive after an interception and we kind of put the little thing there at the end.


"(OSU's) front four are very strong. If you have to throw it, it really stresses your protection because they are going to, if not get sacks, they are going to hit the quarterback."


The Buckeyes did hit the quarterback often, and sacked the Hoosiers' signal caller — Ben Chappell — three times. Ohio State's relentless pressure also forced Chappell into throwing two interceptions in the defeat.


"Their defensive line is big and athletic," Chappell said. "I think that is their strength of their defense — and their other guys are good too.


"They are a solid defense, no question."


The Hoosiers did manage to drive one down for a score on the Buckeyes in the second quarter, when Chappell led Indiana on an 8-play, 80 yard drive, capped off by a seven yard TD pass to Tandon Doss, pulling the OSU lead to within three.


However, following the Hoosiers' score, Pryor showed his might — and his cannon for an arm.


The 6-6, 240-pound star — on the ensuing drive — hit Dane Sanzenbacher on an 18-yard strike deep into Indiana territory and then followed it up with a 23-yard laser shot to DeVier Posey for a touchdown and the 17-7 lead.


The scoring drive not only took just three plays, but it eliminated the little momentum the Hoosiers had going at that point in the contest — something that they never regained the rest of the night.


"That was a huge answer," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "It was nice to come back down and get that touchdown. Ray Small set it up with the kick return on the reverse. Then it was bang, bang, bang and we scored ...


"Terrelle was glued in there. That was after we had a good drive and missed that field goal. (Pryor) may have been frustrated, but he came back and moved it down. He's a competitor."


Ohio State left guard, Justin Boren, said that Pryor made the quick drive look easier than it really was.


"You want to do that every time but it's never that easy. Terrelle made a couple of really good passes and probably made it look easier than it was," Boren said. "I've said it before — Terrelle is amazing. He's one heck of an athlete and we have all the confidence in the world with him back there.


"It's awesome! He's unbelievable."


Pryor — who is now 12-2 as a starter at Ohio State — threw for 159 yards and three touchdowns in the win, including scoring strikes to true freshmen' Duron Carter and Zach Boren. Pryor also did some damage with his feet, rushing for 63 yards and a score on a sneak play from one yard out in the fourth quarter.


"You know, he's a difference maker," Lynch said of Pryor. "I think that's the best way to put it. I don't know how many times he got them out of situations with his legs to get first downs. It was much the way we thought, he's a very difficult guy to tackle, because he can straight arm, he's allusive, and he never rushes himself either.


"He made some good throws too," Lynch continued. "He's a pretty special football player."


Another bright spot for the Buckeyes was junior tailback, Brandon Saine. Saine — who was starting for the first time in his career because of an injury to starter Dan Herron — ran the ball with great authority, rushing for a personal best 113 yards on 17 carries (6.6 avg.).


Tressel liked what he saw out of his tailback.


"Brandon Saine is 220 pounds and he moves the pounds very fast," Tressel said. "He's got some power."


The Buckeyes improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten with the win and will return home this Saturday for another conference showdown against unbeaten Wisconsin.


Tressel said that his team must continue to play at a high level if they want to remain on track for a sixth straight Big Ten title.


"We made some big plays and our defense is very good against the rush," Tressel said. "We're going to need to be next week against a very good Wisconsin team."