COLUMBUS - Second-ranked Ohio State unveiled Terrelle Pryor the passer Saturday, and the rest of the Big Ten had to get a collective sick feeling over what transpired.
The junior quarterback, feared for his running prowess, set up shop in the pocket and performed like that has been his home all along.
Pryor, who was nursing a thigh injury from the previous game, completed 24-of-30 passes for three touchdowns and a career high 334 yards to lead the Buckeyes to a 38-10 Big Ten win over Indiana.
Besides being a conference victory, the win could prove to be even more significant with No. 1 Alabama's loss to South Carolina Saturday. The Buckeyes are expected to claim the top spot in the rankings when they are released today.
Pryor had 280 yards by halftime and played only the first series of the second half, leaving with a 38-0 lead.
"Terrelle stood in there - he's coming along," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said about his Heisman Trophy candidate.
"The beauty of Terrelle is that he can escape what's going on with his feet, if it's not so wonderful. I thought he did a lot better job of just staying in there ... and the protection was such that we didn't need a whole bunch of escapes."
Pryor, who leads the Buckeyes in rushing and had 54 carries in the first five games, did not have a single running play called for him against Indiana, and he was sacked three times for 19 yards in losses.
Tressel, who won his 100th game at Ohio State, said Pryor was healthy enough to run the ball, if necessary, but that the game plan was to take advantage of Indiana's vulnerability to the pass.
"We didn't really have that need," Tressel said about Pryor running against the Hoosiers. "But could we have? Yeah. We could have, but that's not what we thought we needed to do."
Against Indiana, Ohio State did not call on Pryor's legs and speed in the open field. He completed three straight passes on the opening possession, then watched tailback Dan "Boom" Herron burst 39 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. After an interception by defensive back Devon Torrence, Pryor hit Dane Sanzenbacher over the middle for another score and a 14-0 lead.
"He wasn't as worried about it as everyone else was," Sanzenbacher said about Pryor's injury.
"I think we planned going into the game to pass the ball a little more, and Terrelle's very comfortable with that and with where he's at as a quarterback. He was going to play whether his leg hurt or not, but we were thinking pass first, and, obviously, it was working for us."
Pryor hit running back Brandon Saine for a 60-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, with Saine making a juggling catch behind the Indiana defense. An interception by linebacker Brian Rolle set the Buckeyes up again, and Pryor found DeVier Posey for a 17-yard score and a 28-0 lead. A Devin Barclay 36-yard field goal pushed the lead to 31-0 by the half.
The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) pounded the Hoosiers for nearly 500 yards of offense in the game and smothered an Indiana passing attack that had been leading the Big Ten with about 350 yards per game through the air. Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, who had passed for 480 yards the previous week against Michigan, had just 106 passing yards against the Buckeyes, with no touchdowns and the two interceptions.
"We knew he was a slinger, and he's been killing teams going down the field," Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said about Chappell. "We knew if we got him rattled early we could get him to make mistakes and knock him off his game."
Pryor led the Buckeyes to a touchdown on the first possession of the second half and a 38-0 lead. He completed five passes moving the ball down to the Indiana 8-yard line, where Herron ran it in.
Pryor, who downplayed the thigh injury, said he was proud to be part of Tressel's 100th win at Ohio State.
"I look at him as a father figure," Pryor said. "Every week, I learn something new from him."
Indiana (3-2, 0-2) managed a field goal and a touchdown the rest of the way, facing the Ohio State backups. The Hoosiers had been averaging nearly 40 points per game, but the Buckeyes managed to limit Indiana to 69 rushing yards and pressure Chappell throughout the day.
"I think we were definitely affecting him," OSU defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said. "I thought we played as a team and got after him. They're a great offense, and to be able to limit them to zero points in the first half, that was a testament to the guys being prepared for the game and coming to play."
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Second-ranked Ohio State unveiled Terrelle Pryor the passer Saturday, and the rest of the Big Ten had to get a collective sick feeling over what transpired.