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Wells, Pryor help Ohio State crush Minnesota in Big Ten opener

Sep 27, 2008 - 9:59 PM By Dave Holstein PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- The return of Chris "Beanie" Wells sparked Ohio State to a convincing win in its Big Ten Conference opener.

Wells rushed for 106 yards while freshman Terrelle Pryor ran for two touchdowns and passed for another score Saturday, pacing 13th-ranked Ohio State to a 34-21 victory over upstart Minnesota in the Big Ten opener for both schools.

The Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) have won six straight meetings with the Golden Gophers (4-1, 0-1) and improved to 7-1 in Big Ten openers under head coach Jim Tressel.

"I thought the kids came out and played hard," Tressel said. "It's nice to start the Big Ten season with a win."

Wells, who missed the previous three games due to a foot injury, needed just 14 carries to record his 11th career 100-yard game.

"At first, I was nervous and anxious," Wells said. "Once I got my first big gain, I felt comfortable again. I just want to carry the ball as many times possible."

"I thought he did all right," Tressel added. "It's tough when you don't practice full speed for three weeks. Hopefully he'll be even better next week."

On the Buckeyes' first possession, Wells rumbled for 28 yards to set up a 33-yard touchdown run by Pryor that gave Ohio State (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) a 7-0 lead just over two minutes into the contest.

"(Pryor) does have that speed," Tressel said. "He loves to compete and that's a plus. That adds something to the package."

Ohio State never relinquished the lead from there, scoring on three straight second-quarter possessions to take a 20-3 lead into the break.

Ryan Pretorius kicked a pair of short field goals before Pryor, who replaced Todd Boeckman as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback last week, found Brian Robiskie for an 8-yard score with 33 seconds remaining in the first half.

"It is nice to be able to throw the ball down the field," Pryor said. "Give credit to our wide receivers on making the plays."

"I have got to give a lot of credit to Terrelle for giving me a lot of opportunities," Robiske said. "The biggest thing for me is to keep getting better."

Minnesota, seeking its first 5-0 start since 2004, entered the game fourth in the nation in turnover margin, averaging close to three per game.

But it was Ohio State's defense that capitalized on mishaps in this one, as the Buckeyes recovered two fumbles and intercepted Adam Weber once to set up Pretorius' second field goal.

Pryor's TD pass also was set up by a turnover, as Buckeyes safety Russell Anderson recovered Jack Simmons' fumble at the Minnesota 35-yard line.

"Football is about explosive plays and turnovers," Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said. "Ohio State won both of those battles today, and that is why they won the football game."

Minnesota closed to within 20-6 on Joel Monroe's 28-yard field goal early in the third quarter. But Ohio State essentially sealed the win on Pryor's second scoring run, a 1-yarder that made it 27-6 with 7:37 remaining in the third.

Robiskie caught his second scoring pass of the day on a 31-yarder from Boeckman to open the fourth quarter.

Weber completed 23-of-36 attempts for 188 yards and one TD - a 22-yarder to Da'Jon McKnight with 1:13 remaining.

"I'm proud of our team," Brewster said. "But I am disappointed we didn't win the game."