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Around the nation in college football

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor stumbling a bit this season

Ohio State’s Jim Tressel can say all he wants about how the quarterback gets too much credit for victories and too much blame for defeats. Even though it’s true, Terrelle Pryor is the face of the Buckeyes. Case closed.

“”It all starts with Terrelle Pryor,”” said Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, whose team visits Columbus on Saturday. “”All your thoughts, all your philosophies have to be: You’re not going to shut Terrelle Pryor down. He’s too gifted.””

Gifted, yes. But troubled? Also a big yes.

The nation’s top-ranked recruit two years ago and the Big Ten’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year is having a humbling season. He ranks ninth in the league in passing efficiency after a nightmarish performance (two interceptions, two fumbles) in the Buckeyes’ 26-18 loss to Purdue.

“”There are no red flags where you say: We’re not going forward,”” Tressel said of Pryor. “”Because even when you stumble, you’re going forward.””

Pryor stumbled Saturday mainly because of a Purdue pass rush that “”forced him to make some decisions under duress,”” Brewster said.

After the game, Pryor said: “”They brought pressure from a whole different level. I’d never seen anything like it on film. … Minnesota, I’m sure they’re going to bring blitzes like that.””

Purdue coach Danny Hope said the Boilermakers did not call any new blitzes; they merely executed them better.

Whatever the case, this much is clear: Pryor already has reached a crossroads in his young career.

Coach Joe Paterno says Penn State won’t need extra motivation against Michigan

No, Joe Paterno insisted on Tuesday, he doesn’t dwell on any bad luck Penn State may have experienced at Michigan Stadium in its last five games there, all defeats.

But there are signs the 82-year-old coach hasn’t forgotten about his team’s misfortunes there, either.

On Saturday, the 13th-ranked Nittany Lions will be seeking their first victory over Michigan at the Big House since 1996. They snapped an overall nine-game losing streak in games against the Wolverines with a 46-17 victory last year at Beaver Stadium.

During his weekly teleconference on Tuesday, Paterno said any lack of success at Michigan wouldn’t give the Lions additional zip this week.

“”I don’t think this takes any extra motivation, nor do we think about what’s happened there before,”” he said. “”That’s happened. We can’t do anything about that.””

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Utah shows its program can weather rebuilding

Utah’s 2009 campaign won’t be able to match its unbeaten dream season of 2008.

But, in a way, what the Utes have done in the first half of 2009 _ going 5-1 with the lone loss coming at No. 11 Oregon by a touchdown _ says more about how strong the program has become than their run a year ago.

Utah had to replace seven offensive starters and four defensive starters from last season’s squad, including quarterback Brian Johnson, the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, three-time MWC Special Teams Player of the Year Louie Sakoda and four players who were taken in the NFL draft.

Then, early in their fourth game, the Utes lost senior Matt Asiata, the league’s leading rusher at the time, to a season-ending knee injury. And three other starters have missed several games each.

But junior college transfer Terrance Cain has looked like a veteran in replacing Johnson, the defense is stronger than ever and backups have filled in seamlessly for injured starters _ like Eddie Wide, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in three games since taking over for Asiata.

“”We think we’ve done a good job recruiting for five straight years now and have been able to build some depth,”” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who added the current roster, is “”deeper and more talented”” than it was in 2005, the year after the Utes’ first BCS bowl season.

“”If you recruit the right way and get the right players in your program, then you’re going to have guys coming up through your system that are ready to take over when somebody goes down.””

 

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