OSU controls own destiny

Published 3:41 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ohio State’s darkened team bus was on its way back from the airport to campus on Saturday night when word spread that unbeaten Penn State was on the ropes at Iowa.

The Buckeyes, on the last leg of a trip back from a lopsided win at Northwestern, took notice.

The bus driver had a small radio that he handed to coach Jim Tressel. Everyone else used cell phones to get updates.

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Penn State led 23-21 when Daniel Murray came on the field for a 31-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds.

‘‘When the Iowa kicker kicked it through, you could see that piqued interest, because all of a sudden you’re ostensibly back with a shot (at the Big Ten title), if you do your work,’’ Tressel said Tuesday.

What was thought to be out of reach — a chance at a fourth consecutive conference title — was suddenly back on the table.

A team that had no real definitive goals after losses to Southern California and Penn State seemed to wipe away any hope of a national title or even a Big Ten crown, suddenly had one.

‘‘Now everything is back in our hands,’’ cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. ‘‘If we want a share of the Big Ten championship or even win it outright, depending on what happens, it’s up to us. We’ve got to win these games.’’

Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) has a bye this week. Penn State (9-1, 5-1) hosts Indiana before entertaining the Spartans in what will likely be showdown to determine at least a share of the Big Ten title. A rejuvenated and no longer rudderless 10th-ranked Ohio State (8-2, 5-1) plays at Illinois this week before hosting rival Michigan in the season finale.