Terrelle Pryor is hurting everywhere.
LOS ANGELES — Terrelle Pryor is hurting everywhere. He has a partially torn knee ligament, an older ankle injury and various assorted aches — not to mention some hurt feelings from a few Ohio State fans' boos this fall.
He's even got a virtual hole in his stomach after missing out on a bountiful prime rib feast Sunday night because he forgot to pack dress pants for the Rose Bowl.
Yet for all his ailing joints and fashion blunders, the Ohio State quarterback seems mostly content entering the final week of his tumultuous sophomore season. Pryor is well enough to play in the biggest game of his much-hyped career, and he hopes to cure the rest of his ills with a bowl victory for the Ohio State seniors who were a big reason he chose the Buckeyes over, among others, Oregon.
"From my standpoint, we must win," Pryor said. "We have to get a win for the seniors, for the program in general, for the Big Ten, everything. It's real important."
Pryor was released from Ohio State's protective media-shielding cocoon for an affable session Monday at a downtown hotel ballroom in Los Angeles, where the eighth-ranked Buckeyes (10-2) are preparing for Friday's meeting with the No. 7 Ducks.
Pryor promptly revealed he partially tore a ligament in the back of his knee during the season, touching his left knee for emphasis but not confirming which knee was hurt. He said it doesn't seriously affect his ability to run and throw with the skill that has led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles.
"Sometimes I have trouble making some kinds of cuts," Pryor said. "It's just a little sore. When I'm in practice, I don't even worry about it."
The Ducks don't expect Pryor to be anything less than the supremely elusive playmaker who passed for 1,828 yards and 16 touchdowns this season along with 707 yards rushing. Oregon's speedy defense was among the Pac-10's most impressive units this fall, and the Ducks seem quietly confident in their ability to chase down Pryor.
"We're very aware of Terrelle Pryor, but until we see him in person, we'll have to wait," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. "Is he Superman, or is he a good player that we can stop and corral? I think we'll see."
For all of Pryor's accomplishments — an 18-3 record as a starter, nearly 4,500 yards of total offense and a solid academic record — he knows nothing short of transcendence was expected when he chose the Buckeyes. That's why some fans booed him after a rough performance in the Buckeyes' loss to Purdue in October.
Others didn't love his effort in last season's Fiesta Bowl, when he rushed for 78 yards and passed for 66 in Ohio State's loss to Texas, the Buckeyes' third straight postseason defeat. Those disappointments are opportunities to Pryor.
"If we can send the seniors out with a win and get back on the winning side in a bowl game, then this has been a great season," Pryor said. "I don't worry about pressure on me, because it's not about me. I love the situation that I'm in here with these guys. I wouldn't trade it. I just want to prove to the coaches that I can do everything they need me to do."
Pryor already survived the first hiccup of his Rose Bowl week when he wasn't allowed to attend Lawry's Beef Bowl, a traditional feast at a Beverly Hills restaurant where the teams gorge on prime rib and other delicacies.
Pryor didn't bring the proper attire to California, forcing him to get dinner at a nearby mall with fellow underdressed defensive linemen Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson — another humbling learning experience for a player who seems determined to learn from everything.
"We were pretty mad that we missed some great food, and free food at that," Pryor said.
Jim Tressel wasn't angry at Pryor, but the perpetually well-dressed coach wouldn't let his players wear jeans to the tony restaurant. Tressel's relentless discipline is just one reason Pryor chose Ohio State after a lengthy recruiting process in which Oregon once played a role.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly was the new offensive coordinator in Eugene when he pursued the Pennsylvania high school quarterback with surprising vigor, catching Pryor's attention with two big attractions: the swoosh and the spread.
Emphasizing Oregon's connection to Nike and a wide-open offense that still seems perfectly suited to Pryor's talents, Kelly at least managed to get the Ducks on Pryor's radar — no small feat.
"Chip Kelly, he can recruit like crazy," Pryor said while showing off his new Air Jordans. "He had me wanting to go there. ... It was Nike, all that Nike stuff. I probably would have got in trouble with all that Nike stuff. They have what, about 20 million uniforms?"
When pressed, Pryor acknowledges he never seriously considered moving across the country to western Oregon. The distance from his family would have been too daunting — and after his visit to Ohio State, where players greeted him as a family member, he knew where he wanted to be.
"When you go to Ohio State, your goal is to win the Rose Bowl," Pryor said. "We haven't been here in over 10 years. We have a chance to be the team that got Ohio State back on top of the Rose Bowl."