The sophomore quarterback and Pennsylvania native silenced a hostile crowd Nov. 7, 2009, at Beaver Stadium and led the Ohio State football team to a 24-7 victory against Penn State. Pryor and the Buckeyes were almost perfect, committing zero turnovers, outrushing the Nittany Lions by nearly a 3-to-1 margin and controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.
The native son had returned and avenged a 2008 home loss to the Nittany Lions, one that Pryor took extra hard after his fourth-quarter fumble led to the game-winning touchdown in a 13-6 PSU victory. The lasting image from that night was Pryor sitting in the Ohio State bench with his head in his hands.
The image led to some pregame controversy a year later when a PSU student marketing group started selling a T-shirt depicting Pryor with the Nittany Lions' mascot arm-in-arm with the lion holding a box of tissues above the heading "The Nutcracker: A Terrelle Cryer Story." The shirts were recalled almost as quickly as they were released, but it served to motivate Pryor. The sophomore even told reporters before the game that he hoped to acquire one.
There was no crying for Pryor after the game. In fact, he was all smiles.
"It's all fun and games," he said in the Nov. 13, 2009, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "When you go somewhere else, they've got to find something to rag on you. I did mess up last year, and you learn off that kind of stuff."
It did not take long for Ohio State to jump out to a lead and quiet the white-clad fans in Happy Valley. The teams traded three-and-out series before OSU senior Ray Small returned a Jeremy Boone punt to the PSU 9-yard line. Two plays later, Pryor went back to pass but pulled the ball down when pressured by Nittany Lion linebacker NaVorro Bowman. He eluded Bowman and defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu before racing around right end and diving into the end zone for a touchdown at the 11:47 mark of the first quarter.
Penn State answered the touchdown with its lone trip to the end zone early in the second quarter. Quarterback Daryll Clark scored a 1-yard touchdown on a fourth-down run – although replays showed that he might not have reached the goal line – and the ensuing PAT tied the game 7-7 with 12:28 left before halftime.
Ohio State quickly answered with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal by Devin Barclay. It gave the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Ohio State finally broke open the game with a big play in the third quarter. The Buckeyes extended their lead to 17-7 on a 62-yard touchdown bomb from Pryor to fellow sophomore DeVier Posey. OSU then added an exclamation point on their victory in the fourth quarter when Pryor connected with tailback Brandon Saine with a 6-yard TD pass with 9:37 left in the game. Pryor completed 8 of 17 passes for 125 yards and two scores but did most of his damage with his feet. The sophomore ran for 50 yards on five carries. Three of those runs went for first downs and another resulted in a touchdown.
Tailbacks Saine and Dan "Boom" Herron combined for 126 yards on 36 carries. Meanwhile, the OSU defense had one of its best performance of the season. The Buckeyes limited the top-ranked offense in the Big Ten to a season-low 201 yards, including only 76 on the ground. Clark completed 12 of 29 passes for 125 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, and tailback Evan Royster was held to 36 yards on 13 carries.
Junior defensive end Cameron Heyward led the effort with 11 tackles, including three for a loss and two sacks. Junior linebacker Ross Homan had 10 tackles and the game's lone interception.
"This was a gratifying game," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "It's hard to come over here and win. You play Penn State anytime and it's hard. But being gratified is halted the minute you start thinking about what's next because we've got Iowa coming in. They're the Big Ten co-leaders. You know how much respect we have for them."
The game against Iowa took on added importance before the Buckeyes beat Penn State. Earlier in the day, the then-unbeaten Hawkeyes were upset 17-10 at home by Northwestern. Iowa starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi also suffered an ankle injury in the loss and was reported to be out for the rest of the regular season.
That meant the Hawkeyes would have to rely on a backup quarterback in a game at Ohio Stadium that would determine the Rose Bowl.
1998: Michigan State 28, No. 1 Ohio State 24 – "We shocked the world!"
That was the exclamation of Michigan State tailback Sedrick Irvin as he and his teammates celebrated one of the biggest upset losses in Ohio State history. The Spartans took advantage of five Ohio State turnovers and knocked off the top-rated Buckeyes.
The shocking defeat ended Ohio State's hopes of winning its first national championship in 30 years. The stunned crowd of 95,595 at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes and head coach John Cooper were left to pick up the pieces.
"They outcoached us, they outplayed us, their defense was better than ours, their offense was better than ours, their kicking game was better than ours and, of course, they came away with the victory," Cooper said in the Nov. 14, 1998, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin.
Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine was coming off four straight 300-yard passing games, but that didn't matter against Michigan State. Germaine lost two fumbles, both of which led to field goals, and his interception with 1:12 remaining sealed the Spartans' victory.
"We came in here with the attitude that we were the squirts in the neighborhood who had to go up and pick a fight with the bully – not that we wanted to pick one," Michigan State head coach Nick Saban said. "It was on the schedule, so we had to do it."
The Buckeyes twice blew two-touchdown leads. Ohio State led 17-3 in the first quarter behind a 30-yard field goal by Dan Stultz and touchdowns by John Lumpkin on a 41-yard pass and Michael Wiley on a 1-yard scamper. A 73-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Damon Moore built the lead to 24-9 in the third quarter.
Yet each time the Spartans clawed back. After falling behind early, MSU narrowed the deficit to 17-9 at halftime thanks to a pair of Paul Edinger field goals in the second quarter. After Moore's touchdown, Michigan State scored 19 unanswered points to pull the upset. Lavaile Richardson started the onslaught with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Bill Burke, and after a 49-yard field goal from Edinger, Irvin gave the Spartans a 25-24 lead with a 3-yard TD burst.
Edinger sealed the scoring with a 42-yard boot with 9:26 remaining. The MSU defense made the four-point lead hold.
"I just got through telling our football team we'll find out what we're made of now," Cooper said. "We'll try to regroup this week, go to Iowa and try to win that game.
"Then we'll come back here and play Michigan, and obviously Michigan will be the best football team we'll play this year."
1992: No. 22 Ohio State 17, Minnesota 0 – The Buckeye defense held one of the Big Ten's most potent offenses to 236 yards of total offense in posting its first shutout in nearly three years.
Ohio State held Minnesota to 118 passing yards and recorded five sacks. Meanwhile, the Gophers struggled to gain traction with the running game. OSU limited Minnesota rushing attack to 109 yards.
"It's been such a long time since we've had a shutout here, I can't remember how the last one felt," Ohio State defensive coordinator Bill Young said in the Nov. 14, 1992, edition of BSB. "Obviously, it comes with a lot of luck. Their guy missed a short field goal there at the end of the first half. A lot of things have to happen right for you to get a shutout.
"They are a lot better offensive football team than some people realize, and we were very, very happy to come out of there with a shutout. We were hoping to come out with a win. We'd have taken a one-point win. But having a shutout makes it even sweeter."
The Buckeyes posted 461 yards of offense and had success with both the rushing and passing attack. OSU gained 244 yards on the ground and 217 through the air. Robert Smith led the offense with a 119-yard effort on 19 carries. He also scored the only two touchdowns of the game on runs of 14 and 15 yards. Tim Williams sandwiched the Smith scores with a 22-yard field goal right before halftime.
Chico Nelson and Roger Harper had interceptions for the Buckeyes, and Steve Tovar had three tackles for a loss. Tovar also led the team with 13 stops.
1987: Wisconsin 26, Ohio State 24 – Seven Ohio State turnovers gave the host Badgers an early Christmas present and frustrated Buckeye head coach Earle Bruce.
"When you look at it – seven turnovers. That's the answer to the game," Bruce said in the Nov. 14, 1987, edition of BSB. "What can I say? We made the mistakes. We paid for the mistakes. Gracious sakes. That's the end of it."
Ohio State quarterback Tom Tupa had a rough afternoon, throwing two interceptions in the third quarter before being yanked in place of backup Greg Frey. The freshman fared little better, turning the ball over twice.
The Buckeyes jumped in front 14-7 after the first quarter behind touchdown runs by Tupa (16 yards) and Vince Workman (19). Ohio State led 24-13 at halftime thanks to a Matt Frantz 27-yard field goal and George Cooper 1-yard run.
After the break the Badgers took command. Wisconsin cut the lead to one, 24-23, heading into the fourth quarter, and Todd Gregoire's 41-yard field goal with 10:49 remaining stood as the game-winning play.
Ohio State outgained Wisconsin 514-233 but could not overcome its miscues. Chris Spielman notched 16 tackles and caused a fumble. Even so, his frustration was evident after the loss.
"I'm probably in a state of shock," Spielman said. "It's hard to face and kind of embarrassing."
Defensive tackle Ray Holliman echoed that sentiment.
"I don't want to sound mean, but we just lost to one of the worst football teams in the country," Holliman said. "I'm sure they'll get better – they got better today. But this just doesn't make any sense. Some things just aren't right. This is one of them."
1981: Minnesota 35, No. 18 Ohio State 31 – The Buckeyes saw their hopes for a trip to Pasadena take a big hit in Minneapolis.
A pair of Minnesota touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter told the story. The Golden Gophers overcame a 31-21 OSU lead and went ahead for good on a 28-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jay Carroll with 2:38 remaining. The game-winning score came on a third down play with quarterback Mike Hohensee retreating under an all-out blitz by the Buckeyes. His pass was tipped into the air by OSU's Kelvin Bell, who was going for the interception, and into the arms of Carroll.
Carroll was the offensive hero for the Golden Gophers. He caught three touchdown passes from Hohensee, who threw five TD passes and completed 37 of 67 tosses for 444 yards.
Ohio State built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind an Art Schlichter 7-yard pass to tight end John Frank and a 73-yard TD run by Tim Spencer. That lead remained 14 points after the teams traded second-quarter scores. Minnesota rallied by scoring a pair of touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters. Schlichter had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Bob Atha booted a 31-yard field goal in the final quarter. However, it wasn't enough to save the Buckeyes.
1970: No. 3 Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 7 – In front of what was then an all-time best Camp Randall Stadium crowd, the Buckeyes extended a 10-7 halftime lead en route to a victory.
The Badgers kept the 72,758 into the game by holding OSU's running attack to 161 yards. However, the 7-0 Buckeyes turned to the aerial attack in order to leave Madison with a win. Ohio State threw for 158 yards and had three passes set up John Brockington touchdown runs of 11, 4 and 1 yard.
1964: Penn State 27, No. 2 Ohio State 0 – The Buckeyes (6-1) were thoroughly dominated in a game Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes called the soundest trouncing ever registered against one of his teams.
The Nittany Lions entered the game with a 3-4 record but looked much better than that in scoring in each quarter. Ohio State didn't even register a first down until the third quarter – and it came on a PSU penalty.
Penn State fullback Tom Urbanik led his team's rushing attack with 79 yards. His younger brother, Bill, would later play defensive tackle for Ohio State.
1959: Ohio State 0, Indiana 0 – The Hoosiers and Buckeyes played to the last scoreless tie in Ohio State football history. Ohio State (3-3-1) played a lethargic game a week after an emotionally-draining upset victory against Michigan State. OSU managed just 127 yards of offense, compared to just 179 for Indiana.
The Hoosiers had the best scoring chance of the afternoon, marking 85 yards on 23 plays in the first half before being stopped on downs two inches from the goal line. Ohio State missed field goals of 48 and 50 yards.
1953: No. 5 Michigan State 28, No. 16 Ohio State 13 – The Buckeyes dropped their first game against Michigan State after the Spartans joined the Big Ten. The Spartans were the defending national champions, but Ohio State (5-2) still played well in a losing effort.
OSU trailed only 14-13 after three quarters before the Spartans pulled way with two touchdowns. Michigan State's fabled "pony backfield" of quarterback Tom Yewsic, halfbacks LeRoy Bolden and Billy Wells and fullback Evan Slonac were too much for the Buckeyes to handle. Bolden led the way for MSU in front of 82,328 at Ohio Stadium with touchdown runs of 37, 20 and 3 yards.
1942: No. 6 Ohio State 59, Pittsburgh 19 – OSU bounced back from an upset loss at Wisconsin a week earlier by drubbing the Panthers. The Buckeyes cruised to a 41-0 halftime lead, and head coach Paul Brown spread the wealth in the rout. Twelve different backs carried the ball at least once, and six different players completed at least one pass.
The biggest story of the day for the Buckeyes (6-1) actually happened in Iowa City, where Iowa defeated favored Wisconsin and created a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten standings. Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa each had 3-1 records.
1936: Ohio State 44, Chicago 0 – The Buckeyes took their frustrations after losing at Notre Dame on an overmatch Chicago club. Ohio State scored six touchdowns, and the final score should have been worse. Four other Buckeye trips were called back because of penalties.
OSU head coach Francis Schmidt used 43 players in the game, and the Buckeyes (3-3) intercepted five Chicago passes.
1931: Ohio State 20, Navy 0 – More than 60,000 fans watched the Buckeyes beat the Midshipmen in the weekend's top intersectional game. Three unusual plays led to Ohio State touchdowns. A Carl Cramer pass was deflected by Navy end Larry Smith into the hands of Sid Gillman, who raced to a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Near halftime, Ohio State (4-2) struck again when Mart Varner blocked a Navy punt, which was returned 32 yards by Junius Ferrall for a score.
The final touchdown came on a 20-yard interception return by Ferrall in the third quarter.
1925: Ohio State 7, Indiana 0 – The Buckeyes avenged their 1924 loss to the Hoosiers thanks to a "Cookie" Cunningham second-quarter touchdown pass from sophomore halfback Freddie Grim.
A rainy day in Columbus kept all but 13,500 people away from Ohio Stadium. Those who came saw the Buckeyes improve to 4-1-1 with a game at Michigan up next.
1914: Ohio State 13, Indiana 3 – OSU ended a two-game losing streak and earned their first conference victory of the season in Bloomington.
The Buckeyes' passing attack led the way to Ohio State's first-ever victory against the Hoosiers. Ohio State (3-2) erased a 3-0 halftime deficit by scoring a touchdown in each the third and fourth quarters.
1908: Case 18, Ohio State 8 – A week after earning a hard-fought victory against Ohio Wesleyan, the Buckeyes dropped a road game at Case. The loss dropped Ohio State below .500 at 3-4 with a road game at Vanderbilt coming up.
1903: Michigan 36, Ohio State 0 – A shutout loss in Ann Arbor handed Ohio State its second loss of the season. The Buckeyes (6-2) had also lost their only other road game up to that point, dropping 12-0 decision at Case on Oct. 24.
1892: Oberlin 50, Ohio State 0 – The Buckeyes (3-2) lost to Oberlin for the second time in less than a month. Ohio State lost at Oberlin, 40-0, on Oct. 15. The Buckeyes had posted three wins in between those losses.