No. 17 Buckeyes happy to win, progress

BY foxsports • October 25, 2009

The 17th-ranked Buckeyes battered error-prone Minnesota 38-7 on Saturday.

It might not have been a work of art, but coming a week after a painful 26-18 setback at Purdue the Buckeyes got exactly what they wanted. They gained some confidence, quieted some critics and kept moving forward.

First, there was good news for the much maligned offense.

"We had a 500-yard performance in us and I'm happy we did well," wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said.

Second, the defense had a strong showing.

"For us to shut Minnesota down was a good lift for us after the loss last week," linebacker Brian Rolle said.

Third, a lot of players got to play, which will add to the depth coming down the stretch.

"It was fun to practice and play," said seldom-used Jermil Martin, who gained 75 yards on just seven carries and scored his first collegiate touchdown. "I never thought I'd be interviewed after the game. That shows that everything can be important."

Maybe the top reclamation project on this Saturday was quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He was lambasted by a growing number of critics after turning the ball over four times at Purdue.

He said earlier in the week that he felt freer and looser than he had before. If so, it showed it.

"I made a lot of mistakes last week," Pryor said. "Today helped me grow as a quarterback."

Pryor hit on 13 of 25 passes for 239 yards with one interception and ran for 104 yards on 15 carries. He threw touchdown passes of 62 and 57 yards to DeVier Posey - both on major gaffes by the Minnesota secondary - and also ran for a 15-yard score. Posey had a career-best 161 yards on eight catches.

"From day one, Terrelle and I had chemistry, but we just haven't shown it like we can," Posey said.

Seldom pressured, and with the secondary leaving receivers open by 10 yards, Pryor was able to make good decisions and move the ball down the field. The Buckeyes ran for 270 yards on 49 carries, with Jordan Hall stepping in for the injured Brandon Saine to rush for 38 yards and his first touchdown.

Make no mistake, Pryor was the triggerman.

"For the amount of heat that Terrelle Pryor took this week, I thought he played really well," Sanzenbacher said. "I knew in practice he would come through."

Saine sustained a concussion in the first half. If he must sit out Saturday's non-conference game against New Mexico State, that would mean the Buckeyes would be without their top two backs. Dan Herron is still recuperating from an undisclosed injury that has sidelined him the past two games.

Likewise, Minnesota played most of the game without top receiver Eric Decker, who hobbled off the field in the first quarter and didn't return due to what coach Tim Brewster called a sprained foot. Still, the Gophers had four turnovers, eight penalties and numerous other miscues.

"Ohio State turned the ball over four or five times last week against Purdue and lost on the road," Brewster said. "It's a recipe for disaster to go on the road in the Big Ten and turn the ball over."

The loss left Minnesota (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) starving for a couple more wins to be bowl eligible. The Golden Gophers return to TCF Bank Stadium, their new on-campus home, for the next three games against Michigan State, Illinois and South Dakota State before closing at Iowa.

"We have to be able to handle adversity," linebacker Lee Campbell said. "Our motto is 'Don't Flinch.' We can't let that happen if we want to win these types of games."

The Buckeyes are feeling a lot better about themselves.

"We got better," coach Jim Tressel said. "We need to get considerably better as we move forward, but it was a good step."

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