No. 3 Penn State ends Michigan hex, 46-17

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October 19, 2008|By From Sun news services

Thousands of white pompoms fluttered and 100,000 Penn State fans broke into a sing-along as night fell on Beaver Stadium in State College.

Joe Paterno's greatest nemesis was about to be vanquished by the third-ranked Nittany Lions, and the coach, 81, had a bird's-eye view of party time in Happy Valley.

Yep, JoePa's getting a really good look at his latest national championship contender.

Behind the running of Evan Royster, who rushed for a 44-yard touchdown, and a few momentum-shifting plays by the defense and special teams, the Nittany Lions withstood the Wolverines' early flurry and ended a nine-game losing streak to their Big Ten rivals, 46-17, yesterday.

Paterno wasn't on the field to enjoy his record 380th victory, relegated to working from the press box for a third consecutive week because of a sore hip and leg.

"My being upstairs - it's funny, I'm not sure that's not the best place for a head coach," he said. "I mean, you really get a view of things, I get a better view of football games from up there than I ever do on the sideline."

What he's seeing is a team that should be no worse than third in the Bowl Championship Series standings when it heads to Ohio State on Saturday night.

No team had ever won as many in a row against Penn State during Paterno's 43 seasons than Michigan. But if ever there was an opportunity for the Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0) to break the streak, it was now. The Wolverines (2-5, 1-2) have struggled mightily in their first season under coach Rich Rodriguez.

Michigan came in a 23 1/2 -point underdog. Never before had the Wolverines been so lightly regarded by odds makers.

The Wolverines looked like a good bet early, their spread offense clicking as they sped to a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter.

But Penn State (8-0, 4-0) deciphered the spread, got its own high-powered version of Rodriguez's offense rolling and delivered the knockout punch with a safety, a partially blocked punt and a forced fumble on consecutive second-half Michigan possessions.

No. 2 Alabama 24, Mississippi 20: : John Parker Wilson threw for a season-high 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) made a late defensive stand to hold off the visiting Rebels (3-4, 1-3). Alabama stopped Ole Miss on fourth-and-5 from the Tide's 43-yard line in the final minute.

No. 6 Southern California 69, Washington State 0: : Mark Sanchez became the first USC quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a half, and the Trojans (5-1, 3-1 Pacific-10) breezed this time as huge favorites, beating the host Cougars (1-7, 0-5). It was the largest shutout victory for USC since a 69-0 win over Montana in 1931. The Trojans have won their past three games by a combined 141-10 since a stunning loss at Oregon State on Sept. 25 cost them their No. 1 ranking.

No. 7 Texas Tech 43, Texas A&M 25: : Graham Harrell threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more touchdowns, and the Red Raiders (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) beat the host Aggies (2-5, 0-3), giving them their best start in 32 years. Harrell completed 44 of 56 passes for 450 yards.

No. 8 Oklahoma State 34, Baylor 6: : Dez Bryant made sure there would be no letdown for Oklahoma State. Playing their first game as a top 10 team since 1988, the host Cowboys (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) made quick work of the Bears (3-4, 1-2), scoring on four straight first-half possessions. Bryant had a career-high 11 catches for 212 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 10 Georgia 24, No. 22 Vanderbilt 14: : Knowshon Moreno rushed for a season-high 172 yards, freshman A.J. Green had 132 receiving yards and the host Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) overcame their mistakes to beat the Commodores (5-2, 3-2).

No. 12 Ohio State 45, No. 20 Michigan State 7: : Terrelle Pryor showed some of his potential during a spectacular start that kept Ohio State tied atop the Big Ten. Pryor ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the first half, helping the Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0) build a four-touchdown lead on the way to a win over the host Spartans (6-2, 3-1). The freshman quarterback finished 7-for-11 for 116 yards and a touchdown and had 72 rushing yards on 12 carries, including an 18-yard for a score early. Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells had season highs with 31 carries, 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

No. 14 Utah 49, Colorado State 16: : Backup quarterback Corbin Louks ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns and starter Brian Johnson threw two touchdown passes as the host Utes (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) remained unbeaten with a win over the Rams (3-4, 1-2).Utah improved to 8-0 for the fourth time and gained a season-high 549 yards.

No. 19 South Florida 45, Syracuse 13: : Quarterback Matt Grothe threw three touchdown passes and ran for one, and the host Bulls (6-1, 1-1 Big East) topped the Orange (1-6, 0-3). South Florida seemed to be back on track after a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 2.

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