Penn State coach Joe Paterno has been lamenting all season about the lack of respect for defensive end Tamba Hali. JoePa's got nothing to...
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State coach Joe Paterno has been lamenting all season about the lack of respect for defensive end Tamba Hali.
JoePa’s got nothing to worry about anymore.
Hali had four sacks to lead a ferocious defense, while Michael Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for 125 yards as the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions inched closer to claiming the Big Ten’s BCS bid after beating No. 14 Wisconsin, 35-14, on Saturday. Robinson finished 13-of-28 passing for 238 yards and had two interceptions.
“Our kids have played hard defense all year. Tamba — I’ve been bragging on Tamba since preseason,” Paterno said. He then paid Hali his signature compliment, “Tamba’s a heck of a football player.”
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Tony Hunt had 151 yards and two scores for Penn State (9-1, 6-1), which can guarantee a trip to a BCS bowl if it wins its final regular-season game, at Michigan State on Nov. 19.
The Badgers fell back in the conference race after Penn State held tailback Brian Calhoun to 20 carries and 38 yards, well below his 135-yard average coming into the game. The Badgers also had the league’s highest-scoring offense at 39.7 points coming into the contest.
“Obviously, we couldn’t block them very well, you could see that,” said Barry Alvarez, who is stepping down as Wisconsin coach after the season. “We couldn’t establish the run and had a hard time with pressure off the edge.”
Penn State sacked Badgers quarterback John Stocco nine times.
“When you’re back there dropping in pass coverage looking every which way and you just see the quarterback get crushed, that’s such a great feeling,” said linebacker Dan Connor.
Calhoun did get a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Badgers, setting a school record with 22 for the year.
Penn State never trailed after scoring on its opening drive. Terrell Golden made an over-the-shoulder reception for a 21-yard gain to put the ball at the Wisconsin 47. Robinson rolled right and hit Deon Butler in the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead.
Hunt and BranDon Snow scored touchdowns as the Nittany Lions built a 21-0 by midway through the second quarter, an advantage that allowed an already-solid defense to be more aggressive, Connor said.
Hali, a senior playing his final game at Beaver Stadium, led the charge running around or over most of the blockers Wisconsin threw his way. Besides the sacks, he had seven tackles for a loss.
“He was relentless today,” Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. “He was coming off that edge and getting some great jumps, wasn’t he?”