Nov. 22, 2008
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Daryll Clark threw for career-highs of 341 yards and four touchdowns and a stingy defense held Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards as the No. 7 Nittany Lions clinched BCS bid with a 49-18 victory against No. 17 Michigan State on Saturday.
Whether it was JoePa's last game at Beaver Stadium remains unclear, as the Hall of Famer doesn't have a contract after this season. Both he and the school president have said Paterno doesn't need one to stay on a job he's had a record 43 seasons.
The Nittany Lions claimed a share of the Big Ten title with Ohio State, which beat Michigan earlier Saturday.
But Penn State owns the conference's automatic BCS bid by virtue of its 13-6 win over the Buckeyes earlier this year.
The final home game for Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and 15 other Penn State seniors ended with the school joining Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Nebraska and Ohio State as programs with 800 victories.
Butler caught three TDs in his last home game, and, fittingly, Williams and fellow senior captain Anthony Scirrotto played integral roles in helping Penn State build a 28-0 lead late in the first half.
Under pressure, Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer rushed a pass over the middle. Scirrotto stepped in front for an interception at the Spartans 46, returning it 14 yards.
On the next play, Williams made a leaping catch at the 2 on a pass from Clark with Spartans safety Danny Fortener right on the receiver's back. Williams' momentum carried him into the end zone for a score and Penn State's four-touchdown lead.
The Spartans (9-3, 6-2) went to a hurry-up offense late in the first half to finally break through, and Ringer, third in the nation in rushing coming into the game, plunged in from the 1 with 22 seconds left to cut it to 28-7. It was Ringer's 21st touchdown of the seson, tying him with Jehuu Caulcrick (2007) for most in school history.
But the game was too far out of reach by then.
After struggling in the first half the last three weeks, Penn State's spread HD offense clicked all day, with Clark finishing 16-of-26 passing. Williams had 51 yards receiving on four catches.
Jordan Norwood had a career-high 127 yards on five receptions. All of Butler's receptions were for touchdowns, from four, 59, and a 70-yarder that gave Penn State a 42-7 lead in the third quarter.