(Saturday, November 22nd)
Final Score: (7) Penn State 49, (17) Michigan State 18
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Daryll Clark threw for a career-high 341 yards and four touchdowns, while running for another score, leading seventh-ranked Penn State to a 49-18 thrashing of 17th-ranked Michigan State, giving the Nittany Lions the Land Grant Trophy and at least a spot in the Rose Bowl.
"It's very exciting. But you know what was more exciting: we are Big Ten champions," Clark said. "We are on top of the Big Ten. Nobody thought we would be in this position at the beginning of the year. So to be able to do something like this is really a blessing."
With the victory on a snowy senior day, Penn State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) clinched a share of the conference title with Ohio State, but barring a situation where the Lions are ranked either one or two in the BCS standings, they will advance to the Rose Bowl due to a 13-6 victory over the Buckeyes earlier in the season.
"When we made tough decisions, these guys stuck with us and kept working," Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said. "It's great to be around people like that. It's been a great experience. I'm just delighted for them for the chance to go to the Rose Bowl."
Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, the Nittany Lions have won at least a share of the conference title three times: 1994, 2005, and now 2008. The win is also Penn State's 800th in its illustrious history, becoming just the sixth school to win that many games.
Evan Royster ran for 79 yards on 12 attempts, and Deon Butler caught three passes for 133 yards and three scores for Penn State, which will appear in a BCS Bowl for the first time since 2005, when the team finished No.3 nationally with a 26-23 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Jordan Norwood caught five passes for a career-high 127 yards, and Graham Zug had a touchdown reception in the win.
"We have been dedicated to this program and bought into it since day one," Butler said. "The hard work has paid off, and you can see that in our resume we put together. We have another game to go, but people and this senior class definitely feel they made a great deal of accomplishments helping Penn State get back."
Clark completed 16 of his 26 passes, and Derrick Williams had four receptions for 51 yards and a score. The team totaled 419 passing yards, which is a new school record.
"Everything was perfect today," Williams said. "Almost a perfect ending, but we still have one more game. Everything has been great throughout my career here. We captured two Big Ten championships in the four years that I was here. I am part of the first team ever to win the Big Ten title here at Beaver Stadium. It has meant a lot. I just got to thank God and Coach Paterno."
After the game, Paterno, 81, was asked again about the swirling rumors regarding his retirement.
"I'm planning on coming back (in 2009), I never planned otherwise," Paterno said. "I'll have to sit down with (athletic director) Tim Curley and (school president) Graham Spanier because I don't have a contract signed. When I talk to high school kids I (want to) be honest with them because I have no plans to leave, but we'll see what happens."
Javon Ringer was held to a season-low 42 yards on the ground and a score for Michigan State (9-3, 6-2), which will appear in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since going to three in a row from 1995-1997. It is also the school's first nine-win season since 1999 and marks the first time the Spartans have had back-to-back winning seasons since 1989-1990.
"Obviously, it's very disappointing when you have high expectations and you come out and have a bad performance," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "It's not something you look forward to, and it's very disappointing to our fans and our players."
Brian Hoyer went 25-of-40 passing for 206 yards and two interception, while Blair White caught eight passes for 71 yards. Michigan State struggled against Penn State's defense, managing only 322 total yards on the day, including only 35 yards on the ground.
"We just lost to the Big Ten champs," Hoyer said. "The score probably looks a lot worse than it was. We were moving the ball, but we hurt ourselves with penalties and third-and-longs. I'm sure the score looks bad, but those guys just won the Big Ten championship. They came out ready, and we hurt ourselves too much."
After a Michigan State punt in the first quarter, a 49-yard pass over the middle to Norwood set up Clark's five-yard touchdown pass to Zug. The drive went four plays over 59 yards, and Penn State took a 7-0 lead with 7:41 left in the quarter.
The Lions were able to drive down the field in a march that bridged the first two quarters. Clark went 3-for-3 on third downs for 54 yards, and Dan Lawlor rushed up the middle from four yards out to make it 14-0 three minutes into the second.
Clark converted a crucial 3rd-and-17 with a 37-yard screen play to Stephfon Green to the Spartans' 41. A 28-yard completion to Zug set up Clark's one-yard run to the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
After an Anthony Scirrotto interception on the ensuing possession, Clark found Williams from 32 yards out for another touchdown with 2:52 left in the half.
A couple pass interference calls in the end zone allowed Ringer to put the Spartans on the board with a one-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left in the half.
Butler restored Penn State's 28-point lead with a four-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter, and Clark found Butler with 1:32 left in the third for a 70-yard touchdown to make it 42-7.
Pat Devlin came in to relieve Clark in the fourth quarter, and he threw a 59- yard touchdown pass to Butler in the first couple minutes of the frame.
Brett Swenson's 30-yard field goal for Michigan State, and a Kurt Cousins 23- yard touchdown pass to Mark Dell later in the fourth made it 49-16, and Deon Curry's two-point conversion catch accounted for the final margin.
The Nittany Lions are 1-1 all-time in the Rose Bowl, with a loss to Southern California in 1923 and a victory over Oregon in 1995...Should Penn State play in the Rose Bowl, Paterno will have at least two appearances in each of the four major bowl games in his career (Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar)...Michigan (872), Notre Dame (830), Texas (830), Nebraska (815) and Ohio State (808) are the other five schools with 800 wins...No Big Ten team has won the Rose Bowl since January 1, 2000, when Wisconsin defeated Stanford, 17-9...Penn State's all-time record is 800-348-42 in 122 seasons...Devlin threw for 74 yards and a score on 2-of-4 passing...Clark's four touchdown passes are also a career high...Penn State leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 13-12-1...Penn State had 557 total yards of offense.
11/22 22:18:30 ET