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Clarett stings Wolverines

By BOB HARIG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett's sore left shoulder can't get better without rest, but Ohio State is not the same without him. So he played in pain Saturday.

"It's the Michigan game," he said. "There was a lot of emotion running through."

And pain, too. Several times Clarett was in obvious discomfort after taking a shot to the shoulder, including once early when he came out for a brief time. His injury has been diagnosed as a stinger and caused him to miss two of the past four games.

But Clarett played long and well enough to make a difference in Ohio State's 14-9 victory. He scored OSU's first touchdown and set up the second. He had 119 yards on 20 carries and caught two passes for 35 yards.

"I think he was in a lot of pain," coach Jim Tressel said. "People who have had stingers know those are painful. It takes weeks of rest to get them healed. Every time you get hit on them, your arm goes numb. He was in a lot of pain."

Clarett set a school freshman rushing record. He has 1,190 yards this season, surpassing the 1,126 gained by Robert Smith in 1990. Clarett also has set freshman records for touchdowns (16), points (96) and 100-yard rushing games (seven).

BRING ON MIAMI: OSU players watched No. 1-ranked Miami's 28-21 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night. If the Hurricanes win at Syracuse on Saturday and against Virginia Tech on Dec. 7, they'll play the Buckeyes for the national championship in the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl.

"They're beatable," OSU safety Donnie Nickey said. "There's no one totally dominant team. Miami's won however many in a row (32), but I think on any given day, the team that wants it more is going to win."

If Miami stumbles, Oklahoma, Iowa or Georgia could make the game.

THE 13 FACTOR: Ohio State is 13-0 for the first time. ... Clarett wears No. 13. ... Quarterback Craig Krenzel is 13-1 as a starter. ... Kicker Mike Nugent wears the No. 85, with those numbers adding up to 13. ... Tressel is 13-3 in the Big Ten as OSU coach. ... Saturday was the last home game for 13 OSU seniors.

TOAST OF THE TOWN: Tressel, formerly the coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State, was hired less than two years ago after athletic director Andy Geiger fired John Cooper. The Buckeyes had just lost to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

"What's going to come is just huge for a coaching staff in its second year," Geiger said.

SCARY SCENE: When the game ended, thousands rushed onto the field, many congregating near the south goal posts. The OSU band was trying to play at the same corner where Buckeye players had to exit the field and several fans fell to the ground, where they were in danger of being trampled.

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