Oh yes, Terrelle Pryor heard the Illinois fans giving him the business.
When the freshman quarterback exited the playing field at Memorial Stadium following Ohio State’s 30-20 victory against the Fighting Illini, the scattered Illinois students still residing in the north stands gathered to let Pryor have it.
With plenty of boos and catcalls raining down on Pryor, he pointed his right arm at the fans, smirking the whole time. A piece of debris floated down from the stands aimed directly at the quarterback, but it fluttered harmlessly to the ground as he headed into the protective tunnel leading to the locker room.
Never one to back down from a chance to egg on opposing fans, Pryor said afterward that he enjoyed the situation.
“I love taunting,” he said. “I just love having fun. I like to be taunted and I like taunting.”
Pryor said it was not bad sportsmanship, but rather a good-natured back-and-forth between he and the fans. The curses that were rained down upon him begged to differ, but Pryor said he did not mind them.
In a different location, the situation would have been entirely different, he said.
“It’s all fun,” he said. “If I saw them on the street they’d be trying to shake my hand asking me, ‘Where’s Beanie? Can I get your autograph?’ It’s all fun and games. It’s all part of it.”
The fact that at least one fan threw something at Pryor did not faze him either.
“I was taunting them,” he said. “I don’t blame them. As long as it’s not a brick or something, it’s cool.”
The same student section engaged in a spirited back-and-forth with a cadre of scarlet-clad OSU fans in the northernmost seats on the west side of the stadium. After the Illini fans began calling the OSU fans a name that can’t be printed here but rhymes with “basshole,” the Buckeye fans retaliated by referring to the scoreboard.
Undeterred, Illinois’ fans began chanting “USC” in a reference to OSU’s 35-3 loss to the Trojans in week three. The OSU faithful then responded with chants of “Western Michigan,” referring to Illinois’ loss to the Mid-American Conference foe one week prior.
The Illinois student section countered by chanting the name Maurice Clarett, the troubled former OSU running back, and time ran out before the Buckeye fans could retaliate again.
Pryor’s interaction with the Illinois student section was not limited to the post-game festivities, however. As he headed into the locker room at the half with OSU leading 23-13, Pryor gestured to the same group of fans with one hand in a gesture as if to say, ‘Bring it on.’
Then he came out in the second half and led one more scoring drive, keeping the Illini from earning bowl eligibility and keeping the Buckeyes in the race for the Big Ten title.
For the game, Pryor rushed for a career-high 110 yards on 13 carries, giving the Buckeyes two 100-yard rushers for the first time since a 2005 victory against Iowa.
The game marked the second consecutive road contest for OSU, and it also marked the second straight game Pryor talked about feeding off opposing fans during away games.
“It’s nothing bad,” he said after the Illinois game. “It’s all in fun. You’ve got a big crowd saying you’re overrated and your team is overrated. It’s all in fun.”