November 5, 2009

Pryor searching for first 'Big Win'

COLUMBUS - Ohio State sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor has done a lot of things since being the Buckeyes' starting signal caller for nearly two years now.

There is one glaring thing, however, that he hasn't done.

And it's like an elephant standing in the room.

"I haven't led us to a big win yet," Pryor said Wednesday evening at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "That's what a quarterback needs to do - lead - and I haven't led us to a win in a big game yet."

Pryor has been close this season and last, however, almost leading his squad to a victory over USC and of course the dreading game in the Horseshoe last year where a late fumble turned into a game-winning touchdown for the Nittany Lions en route to a 13-6 win in Columbus.

Pryor has watched the film of last year's game quite a bit, naturally, and has been constantly reminded this week about his costly decision last year to try and make a big play instead of taking the first down practically cost Ohio State the football game.

"All that comes in my mind is that fumble and it was just a very stupid play and (I was) a very young player doing it," Pryor said. "I would never do that again obviously.

"But that's the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of Penn State," Pryor added. "Of course we want to beat them. But we need to go in there first stress free and relaxed and just play our game."

The game was a defining moment in the early stages of Pryor's career, but this weekend when the No. 15 Buckeyes travel to State College to take on the No. 11 Nittany Lions, it is the perfect opportunity for Pryor and his squad to make a statement.

Not only is the Rose Bowl on the line for the Buckeyes, but Pryor is trying to lead Ohio State to their first victory over a ranked opponent this year.

And as if the stakes weren't enough, he has to get it done in a stadium that probably hates him the most in the country given he is originally from Jeannette, Pa., and Penn State was one of the final schools left on his recruiting board.

This is the game many people were hoping Pryor would make the statement that he has arrived as one of the biggest stars in the Big Ten and the nation.

As it turns out, all the Buckeyes are hoping for is a mistake-free, efficiently played game by Pryor.

Heroics aren't necessary.

"It is always great to go back home, but you also know that we are back home on a mission," Pryor said. "We are just going home to Penn State and it is going to be a fight and that is all I can think about, really. I'm not really thinking about going home to see my family and stuff like that because I'm going there to try and help my team get a 'W.'"

In one of the most hostile stadiums in the country, though, getting that win will be extra-tough. Pryor said he has been to Beaver Stadium over 10 times, but this time they will be gunning for him.

He said he is ready.

"Being a Pennsylvania guy and being recruited by Penn State you know and just from going there and watching the games and stuff like that and just seeing the stadium rocking and shaking a little bit, it is going to be a crazy atmosphere," Pryor said of Beaver Stadium. "But that's what we come here for, right? That is what we come to play football at Ohio State for and we are looking forward to it and we're going into it as a team. So if I get spit on, they spit on the whole team."

Last week when Pryor came out without pads for the second half of the New Mexico State game, many were worried that he had some sort of significant injury. Though Pryor did say he was banged up, it wasn't anything too serious.

Wednesday he admitted to being a little sore, but said it wasn't anything that will slow him down come game time on Saturday.

"I'm a little sore," he said. "But like I told a bunch of people, 'You're going to have to kill me for me not to play.' It doesn't matter, I'm going to give it my all and I owe the seniors in there and I owe the team 100 percent of my play on Saturday.

"I feel a little bit sick today, too," he said. "So, as a team, you just have to make sure to keep pounding it. We have to make sure we're getting fluids in our body and just taking care of our bodies in general."

In general, Pryor said Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel always harps on two things: staying focused and taking care of the ball. The sophomore feels as if he is ready for one of the biggest games of his life.

"We are looking forward to this and I think we are going to be ready," Pryor said. "It's going to be a show and it's going to be a very fun game. But whoever comes out on top is going to be who doesn't turn the ball over. That's what it's going to come down to. We're looking forward to it and I think we're pretty focused."

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