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No. 3 Penn State proves it belongs in the title picture

October 26, 2008|Associated Press

COLUMBUS, OHIO — Penn State, unbeaten and unbowed, proved it belongs in the middle of any national championship talk.

Pat Devlin came off the bench for injured starting quarterback Daryll Clark in the fourth quarter and led two scoring drives, sneaking in for the go-ahead touchdown to give No. 3 Penn State a 13-6 victory over No. 10 Ohio State on Saturday night.

The win put the Nittany Lions (9-0, 5-0) in command in the Big Ten and severely crimped the chances of the Buckeyes (7-2, 4-1) grabbing an unprecedented third consecutive outright league title and a piece of their fourth conference championship in a row.

Penn State, with Coach Joe Paterno coaching from the press box for the fourth straight game, solidified its position as a national championship contender and also erased the ugly memories of an 0-7 mark in Columbus since joining the Big Ten in 1993. Penn State's previous victory in Columbus came in 1978.

Defenses controlled most of the game in front of an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 105,711.

Ohio State had the ball and a three-point lead when Terrelle Pryor fumbled, defensive back Mark Rubin using his left hand to knock the ball away as the freshman quarterback carried on a third and one early in the fourth quarter. Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman fell on the loose ball at the Buckeyes' 38.

"From where I stood, he saw a couple gaps or penetration and tried to slide outside and someone hit the ball," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said. "It was unfortunate."

Immediately, the Nittany Lions were at a disadvantage as Clark remained on the sideline. He was meeting with team doctors. Paterno later said that Clark had a minor head injury, although the coach said he had not spoken with his medical personnel.

In stepped Devlin, who played in seven games but was only on the field for 45 plays.

He led a seven-play, 38-yard drive that took 4:13 and ended with his touchdown giving Penn State a 10-6 lead.

"Penn State played hard and didn't make a bunch of mistakes," Tressel said.

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