UW Health Sports Medicine 

Pryor's exit leaves Leaders Division race wide open

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101016FB-1400-93.jpgAn energized Camp Randall was rocking with noise after the Badgers had imposed their will on the Ohio State defense during a 10-play, 63-yard scoring drive highlighted by the running of John Clay.

Wisconsin now led 17-13 and all the pressure was on OSU's 19-year-old freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a man-child, who had performed erratically up to this point.

What happened next was one of the defining moments of Pryor's career.

Exhibiting poise and "escapability" in the clutch, Pryor led the Buckeyes on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive during which he converted twice on third down and twice on second-and-long.

Pryor was not only good, he was lucky.

The ball was also on the ground twice during this series; once on a Pryor fumbled which he retrieved and once on a Brian Hartline fumble which his OSU teammate Brian Robiskie recovered.

Pryor capped the march with an 11-yard run for the game-winning touchdown. He made it look easy because it was easy - the Badgers had a breakdown in communication and didn't get lined up right.

It was the first time UW coach Bret Bielema had experienced a defeat on home turf. And it wouldn't end there. Pryor came back to haunt the Badgers the following season in Columbus.

Statistically, Wisconsin dominated Ohio State in total plays (89-40), total yards (368-184) and time of possession (42:47 to 17:13). But the Buckeyes scored twice on interceptions returns.

They also got a timely lift from Pryor just before the end of the first half. The key play? Pryor eluded J.J. Watt and broke containment on a 27-yard scamper, once again showing his escapability.

Despite being off-target with most of his throws, Pryor delivered a perfect strike when it counted - a 12-yard TD pass to DeVier Posey. In a blink, he had driven the offense 88 yards for a score.

That's what Pryor could do - he could change the course of a game with his athleticism and skill.

Last season, the Badgers and Watt, in particular, finally got the better of Pryor - on the scoreboard - with a memorable win over the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes at raucous Camp Randall.

Nobody knew then - except maybe OSU coach Jim Tressel - that Wisconsin would not get another chance to even the score with Pryor, who will not be returning to OSU for his senior year.

Yes, this would be another example of his escapability.

Nobody's surprised; not with the NCAA posse getting closer and closer to Pryor, who had already been suspended for the first five games of 2011, along with a handful of teammates.

Pryor will likely apply for the NFL's supplemental draft; still guaranteed under the old CBA. Pryor is an unfinished product as a quarterback. But somebody will take a chance. Someone always does.

Pryor could wind up at wide receiver, not unlike former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones, who was Jacksonville's first-round draft pick. Pryor, like Jones, brings a lot of Samsonite, though.

While awaiting further sanctions, the Buckeyes can start fresh - without Pryor - avoiding the logistical nightmare of how to integrate Pryor back into the offense once his suspension expired.

Pryor will forever be linked to Jim Tressel - also ousted and humbled and tainted by Ohio State's scandal; not unlike the former USC battery of Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll.

Who replaces Pryor with the Buckeyes? Interim coach Luke Fickell will have to choose between fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman or true freshman Braxton Miller, who practiced in the spring.

Ohio State is not the only team in the Leaders Division with uncertainty at quarterback; starting with the Badgers and Hoosiers who must replace Scott Tolzien and Ben Chappell, respectively.
Penn State is looking for consistency from Matt McGloin or Rob Bolden or someone else. Purdue is still looking for the same thing from Rob Henry or Robert Marve, who's coming off an injury.
The only team in the division without an issue at QB is Illinois, which returns Nathan Scheelhaase who set a single-season school record by rushing for 868 yards. But there are questions about his arm.

In sum, there's no clear-cut Leader in the Leaders; at least not today.

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