Mon, Nov 21, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Penn State shares title in Big Ten

NCAA DIVISION I-A The Nittany Lions beat the Spartans in East Lansing and locked up a BCS bowl bid with the Lions defeat of co-leader Ohio State earlier in the season

AP , EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN

Wendell Mathis, left, of Fresno State, dives into the end zone against Collin Ashton of USC during their game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday. The top-ranked Trojans defeated the No. 16 Bulldogs 50-42 for their 33rd consecutive victory as Reggie Bush ran for a career-high 294 yards on 23 carries.

PHOTO: AFP

Joe Paterno and Penn State locked up their first Bowl Championship Series bid after the No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Michigan State Spartans 31-22 to win their first Big Ten title in 11 years.

Michael Robinson ran for 90 yards and a touchdown and passed for another, and Alan Zemaitis had three interceptions for Penn State (10-1, 6-1).

Coming off a 4-7 season, Penn State tied Ohio State for the Big Ten lead, but will get the league's automatic BCS bid because the Lions beat the Buckeyes in October.

Michigan State (5-6, 2-6), which began the season 4-0, finished it with six losses in seven games to post consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1991-1992.

Zemaitis' second pick came in third quarter, and he returned it 17 yards to the Michigan State 4. Robinson threw a 3-yard TD pass to Deon Butler moments later for a 24-7 third-quarter lead.

Win No. 353 gave Paterno his first Big Ten title since 1994, when Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter were piling up big numbers during Penn State's second year in the league.

No. 6 Notre Dame 34, Syracuse 10

In South Bend, Indiana, Brady Quinn threw two touchdown passes and Leo Ferrine returned an interception for a touchdown, giving Notre Dame a victory over Syracuse.

Darius Walker, who rushed for 123 yards on 26 carries, added a 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. The Irish struggled on offense, with Quinn not as sharp as he has been and receivers dropping catchable balls, but were still good enough to beat the Orange (1-9).

Notre Dame (8-2) needs to beat Stanford next week to remain eligible for its first Bowl Championship Series berth since 2000. Students threw tortillas back and forth throughout the game in anticipation of a possible Fiesta Bowl invitation. Someone also threw an orange on the field after an Irish touchdown.

Syracuse lost its eighth straight -- its longest losing streak since losing its final game of 1972 and the first eight games of 1973 -- and must beat No. 18 Louisville to avoid the first 10-loss season in school history.

No. 9 Ohio State 25,

No. 17 Michigan 21

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Antonio Pittman's 3-yard run with 24 seconds left capped an 88-yard drive and gave ninth-ranked Ohio State a 25-21 win over No. 17 Michigan, clinching a share of the Big Ten title with Penn State.

Ohio State (9-2, 7-1) closed the regular season with six straight wins and gave coach Jim Tressel his fourth win in five games against Michigan (7-4, 5-3).

The Buckeyes rallied for the victory despite two turnovers and a shanked punt that led to scores, a missed extra point and field goal, mishandled punt returns and two pass interference penalties in the end zone.

Michigan was essentially playing mistake-free football when it led 21-12 midway through the fourth quarter before Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith rallied his team to a victory. Smith's 26-yard pass to Santonio Holmes made it 21-19 with 6:40 to go.

Michigan then drove to Ohio State's 34 and chose to have Garrett Rivas pooch punt, instead of kicking a long field goal into the wind.

Smith started the winning drive at the Buckeyes 12 with 4:18 left and made a series of clutch plays, including a 26-yard pass to Anthony Gonzalez to Michigan's 4, to set up Pittman's TD.

Michigan got to midfield, but its comeback hopes ended when receiver Tyler Ecker caught a short pass and tried to gain yards instead of running out of bounds.

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