COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -In the bright lights of a postgame interview last week, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was already thinking ahead to the showdown with a team from his home state, a team he jilted to become a Buckeye.
The freshman, 5-0 as a starter, threw down the challenge to No. 3 Penn State, which comes to Ohio Stadium for a Saturday night game likely to determine the Big Ten champion and its Bowl Championship Series representative.
``We're hungry for more. We want more,'' Pryor said. ``We've got a big fight next week. I ain't proved anything yet. I'm still young. I like playing with a chip on my shoulder and playing for my teammates.''
Pryor will be the central figure in the drama played out before more than 105,000 fans, most of them dressed in scarlet in an attempt to duplicate Penn State's ``White Out'' games back at Beaver Stadium.
tive chose Ohio State. He hasn't looked back, either. After splitting playing time with sixth-year senior Todd Boeckman for three games, he took over the week before Big Ten play started. He's one big (6-foot-6) reason why the Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0) now find themselves sharing first place in the Big Ten with the Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0).
``That's the thing that makes it so tough,'' Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno said of defending against Pryor. ``Pryor has an awfully strong arm and quick release. When he takes off, he takes off. He's a tough guy to get. It's going to be interesting.''
But there's far more than just one player to make the game interesting. Both teams have a lot riding on the outcome.
Penn State is 0-7 at Ohio State since joining the Big Ten, usually coming out on the short end of close games.
``We haven't really talked about that. It's statistics,'' Buckeyes linebacker James Laurinaitis said. ``Those things, you can take them for what they're worth.''
The last time the Nittany Lions won at Ohio Stadium in 1978, they beat a freshman quarterback (Art Schlichter) who threw five interceptions that day.
Also, the Buckeyes retain an us-against-the-world stance because they've been ridiculed by so many people after one-sided losses to Florida and LSU in the last two BCS championships and under the lights against USC.
``This is their game to get back on the map, kind of redemption to get that USC loss behind them,'' Penn State wide receiver Deon Butler said. ``On the flip side, it's our game to make a statement. People are saying that we haven't played a top-notch team yet.''
Penn State, which bashed Oregon State 45-14 before the Beavers turned around and stunned USC, is allowing just 12 points a game while averaging over 45.
``I'll say this, and I could be dead wrong, but it seems like they're capable of scoring at will,'' said Ohio State tight end Rory Nicol, who's from Beaver, Pa.
While Ohio State has a Pennsylvania native at quarterback, the Nittany Lions have someone from the Buckeye State behind center. Darryl Clark is a senior who mirrors Pryor in his ability to both throw and run. Tailback Evan Royster is averaging 112 yards a game.
The Buckeyes counter with an experienced defense that has played well almost all year. On offense, Pryor is joined in the backfield by tailback Chris ``Beanie'' Wells, who is good for 124 yards a game despite playing with a foot injury.
angy River.
``Most of the guys on the team have never had a (night) home game in the Horseshoe,'' Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. ``The last one was my freshman year, so about 90 percent of the team has never experienced that. Guys are really looking forward to it.''
Not everyone likes the late kickoff, however.
``Sitting around and everything is going to be the problem ... waiting for the game to actually start,'' Laurinaitis said.
Both sides are steeled for a clash.
``You have to prepare yourself for the worst, expect the worst, and pray that something good happens,'' Penn State safety Anthony Scirrotto said, an odd approach for a team favored by 2 1/2 points. ``There are ups and downs. You have to pull through the adversity, and that shows the character of your team and what kind of team we really are.''
Pryor wants to prove what kind of a player he is, particularly against the big school from his home state. He's tired of anyone doubting him.
``I don't listen to it because people don't know me or know what I can do,'' he said. ``Everyone thinks I'm overrated. Wait and see. Time will come. You'll find out.''

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