for this game

Penn State erupts in second half to trounce Michigan

Oct 19, 2008 - 3:19 AM STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Penn State ended its 12-year drought against Michigan thanks to a dazzling second half.

Darryl Clark ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score as third-ranked Penn State used a second-half explosion to erase an early 10-point deficit and crush Big Ten Conference rival Michigan, 46-17, on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten), off to their best start since 1999, entered this contest with a nine-game losing streak to the Wolverines, who had not lost to Penn State since 1996.

"(The losing streak to Michigan) never really bothered me," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who watched the game from a press box while nursing a sore hip. "I mean, I'm glad we won the game whether it was Michigan or someone else. An awful lot of things happened in a couple of games we lost to them."

Thanks to an inspired start, Michigan (2-5, 1-2) appeared headed toward its 10th straight win in this rivalry after racing to a 17-7 lead in the opening 17 minutes.

But courtesy of Clark and speedy sophomore Evan Royster, the Nittany Lions reeled off 39 unanswered points to end their skid against Michigan and set up a showdown next week with No. 11 Ohio State, which has won at least a share of the Big Ten title each of the last three years.

"I think we were looking to get this (game)," Paterno said. "Obviously, we'll have a tough one this week."

"It's everything that you dream for when you come to a Big Ten school and you're from Ohio," Clark added. "You're going against a coach that is from your hometown, Jim Tressel, really good guy. And you're going down into 'The Horseshoe,' and that's one of the most hostile places to play in."

After forging a tie on Kevin Kelly's 42-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, Penn State took the lead for good when defensive tackle Jared Odrick sacked Nick Sheridan in the end zone for a 19-17 lead.

"We scooted right, we got pressure on the backside that pushed the quarterback towards me," Odrick said. "I just happened to be there."

Clark scored his first TD of the game on a 1-yard run four plays later, and the rout was on. The multi-talented Clark finished 18-of-31 for 171 yards and also rushed for 45 yards on nine carries.

"We had it today and we were able to stand in there and stay poised and stay confident in what we were doing," Clark said. "We were able to get the job done. I'm proud of everybody."

Royster ran for 174 yards, including a 44-yard TD, on just 18 carries while Deon Butler had 105 yards on eight receptions for Penn State, which figures to be ranked at least third when the first BCS poll is released Sunday.

Michigan marched for a 14-play, 86-yard drive capped by Brandon Minor's 5-yard TD run on its opening possession.

Penn State narrowed its deficit to 10-7 on Royster's 44-yard score, but the Wolverines regained their 10-point lead on Minor's second TD, a 1-yard run.

"You need a day like today when things don't go your way all the time," Paterno said. "We went down at halftime and came out in the second half, kept their poise, kept their heads, went back to work and ended up with a nice win."

"We executed for a while and then we didn't," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. "That's what happened. We executed, we moved the ball a little, and when we didn't, we didn't."

Minor was one of the lone bright spots for the Wolverines, running for 117 yards on 23 carries.

Michigan needs to go 4-1 over its last five games to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time since 1967.

But that will be a tough task for the Wolverines, who host Michigan State next week before visiting Purdue and Minnesota.

Michigan plays its final home game against Northwestern on November 15 before traveling to Columbus the following week for its annual showdown with the Buckeyes.