COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Penn State turned to the wildcat formation Saturday to scratch out an impressive win at Ohio State.
Backup tailback Stephfon Green ran for two touchdowns and Anthony Fera kicked two field goals -- all in the first half -- as the Nittany Lions held on for a 20-14 victory against the Buckeyes before 105,493 at Ohio Stadium.
No. 21 Penn State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) clinched at least a share of the Leaders Division title and earned interim coach Tom Bradley an historic win -- the first of his career and first of the post-Joe Paterno era.
The Lions can win the division crown outright and earn a berth in the inaugural Big Ten championship game Dec. 3 with a win Saturday at No. 17 Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2).
"It's been our goal all year to play for the Big Ten championship and now we got a chance to do it and it feels great," quarterback Matt McGloin said.
Penn State not only improved to 4-0 on the road this season, the Lions ran their record to 7-1 in games decided by 10 points or fewer. The 20 points were the most scored by Penn State at the Horseshoe since 1964, a span of 12 games.
"This win, this isn't about me," said Bradley, 1-1 since replacing Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 amid a child abuse sex scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. "It's about the players, the team. I don't think any team in the history of major college football has been through so much in such a time period."
With tailback Silas Redd slowed by a shoulder injury, Bradley did something Saturday that Paterno rarely did the first nine games this season -- he turned to the wildcat.
"We had it in the back of our minds for a while now," offensive coordinator Galen Hall said. "We just thought it would open up the run game."
The Lions, who finished with 239 yards rushing, ran roughly a dozen plays out of the formation. They used freshman wide receiver Bill Belton and oft-injured redshirt sophomore wideout Curtis Drake at quarterback to take direct snaps from center Matt Stankiewitch.
Drake had three carries for 50 yards and Belton four for 16 yards.
On Penn State's first touchdown, Green took a handoff from Drake and scampered 39 yards. Green, who had 93 yards rushing on 16 carries, also scored on 4-yard run in the second quarter.
"[The wildcat] just spreads people out," said Green, who has not played in seven games this season, mostly because of off-field issues. "You don't know who's going to have the ball."
Fera kicked field goals of 43 and 46 yards in the first half, setting career highs each time.
Neither team scored in the second half as Ohio State (6-5, 3-4) suffered its second consecutive loss. The Lions had one serious scoring chance in the third quarter after defensive tackle Jordan Hill recovered a fumble at the Ohio State 11. Penn State had a first-and-goal at the 2, but could not punch it into the end zone.
Fullback Mike Zordich gained 1 yard on first down, but Zordich, McGloin and Redd were stopped for no gain on the next three plays.
"We screwed up -- we didn't score," said Green, who has four rushing touchdowns in the past two games. "But we had confidence in our defense."
Penn State's defense allowed just 289 yards, but quarterback Braxton Miller gained 105 yards on 18 carries and scored on a 24-yard run in the second quarter. He also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
Penn State forced two second-half fumbles and finished with three sacks, including two by end Jack Crawford.
"You have to give the credit to the players," said defensive line coach Larry Johnson. "They're the ones that stayed the course, stayed focused, played great in the second half. They realize what we have to do to win the Big Ten championship."
NOTES -- Redd gained 63 yards on eight carries. ... McGloin completed 10 of 18 passes for 88 yards and threw one interception. ... Free safety Nick Sukay (Greensburg Central Catholic) had his second fumble recovery this season. ... Ohio State's Jordan Hall (Jeannette) had two carries for 8 yards and two kickoff returns for 48 yards. ... Ohio State's Corey Brown (Gateway) had one catch for 10 yards.
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rmusselmanppg. First Published November 20, 2011 5:00 AM