EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—It didn’t take long for Penn State to start lobbying for a BCS bid.
Daryll Clark passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns Saturday as the No. 13 Nittany Lions wrapped up their regular season with a 42-14 victory against Michigan State on Saturday.
Clark set a school record with his 23rd TD passes this season and set the career record with 42. He also moved to the front of a line of folks in Nittany Lion Nation hoping for an at-large slot in the lucrative Bowl Championship Series.
“Yes we do,” Clark said when asked if Penn State (10-2, 6-2 Big Ten) deserved a BCS slot.
Penn State may be a long shot. Clark noted the Nittany Lions have lost twice — to BCS automatic qualifier Ohio State and fellow at-large hopeful Iowa—but says his team deserves credit for bouncing back to finish the season strong.
Coach Joe Paterno also made his team’s case, in good-natured fashion.
“What do you want me to say?,” Paterno asked reporters outside Spartan Stadium. “Pick us. Maybe I could get on the phone and call somebody and say, ‘you owe me one,’ or ‘you might find a horse’s head in your bed’.”
Michigan State (6-6, 4-4) also is bowl-bound and may have a long wait to figure out the exact bid. But the Spartans were stinging after getting routed by Penn State in Saturday’s second half. The game was tied 7-7 at halftime.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw for 155 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. “We worked very hard and expected to come out and play well. In the second half, we didn’t do that.”
The Spartans took a step back with their record this season after winning nine games in 2008.
“Right now what we have to do is regroup and understand that we are going to have the opportunity to go play in a bowl game, which is a positive,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.
Evan Royster gained 114 yards on 13 carries for Penn State. Graham Zug and Andrew Quarless each caught two TD passes.
The Land Grant Trophy—a 4-foot-tall, 50-pound hunk of wood adorned with a Nittany Lion, Spartan and other images—stays with Penn State.
Penn State also has back-to-back seasons of at least 10 wins for the first time since the early 1990s, but the Nittany Lions lost any chance to share the Big Ten championship before kickoff. Ohio State claimed the crown outright by beating Michigan earlier in the day.
The Nittany Lions have a shot at an at-large BCS bid, but Iowa—which beat Penn State earlier this season—finished with an identical 10-2 record. Only two teams from any conference can play in the BCS.
Orange Bowl representatives were at Saturday’s game. Penn State could be a prime candidate for the Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl if it gets left out of the BCS.
Penn State grabbed a 14-7 lead just over a minute into the half with the help of a trick play. Wide receiver Curtis Drake took a handoff and rolled right, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Quarless in the back of the end zone.
It capped a 55-yard, three-play drive aided by a roughing the passer penalty.
Penn State increased its lead to 21-7 midway through the third quarter. Clark rolled to his right, planted and threw back across the field to the left sideline—finding Joe Suhey all alone for a 30-yard TD pass.
Penn State’s Nick Sukay intercepted Cousins’ pass on the next series, setting up the Nittany Lions at the Michigan State 32. Clark fired a TD pass to Zug on the very next play, giving Penn State a 28-7 lead with 5:22 left in the third.