Ohio State routs Texas Tech with freshman leading charge

COLUMBUS, Ohio _ On Tuesday, Ohio State seemed like a team in disarray.

On Saturday, it looked like a juggernaut.

After a tumultuous week filled with suspensions, an arrest and a starter quitting the team, the 12th-ranked Buckeyes performed almost flawlessly in their season opener in the Pigskin Classic. They dismantled Texas Tech, 45-21, before a crowd of 100,037 at Ohio Stadium and a national television audience. It wasn’t even that close, as the Red Raiders scored a meaningless touchdown with 12 seconds to go.

All the naysayers looked like worrywarts as Ohio State performed well in all areas thought to be suspect.

In just his third career start, quarterback Craig Krenzel was calm, cool and mistake-free in completing 11-of-14 passes for 118 yards and rushing four times for 34 yards. The offensive line was dominating as the Buckeyes rushed for 317 net yards. The secondary held up against the spread passing attack of Texas Tech senior Kliff Kingsbury, who didn’t look like a Heisman Trophy candidate even though he completed 26-of-44 for 341 yards and three touchdowns.

And Maurice Clarett didn’t follow in the footsteps of two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin and fumble on his first carry. Warren Harding’s Clarett, thought to be the first true freshman to start at tailback in four decades, rushed for 175 yards on 21 attempts, caught four passes for 30 yards and scored three touchdowns, his first on a 59-yard run.

Clarett’s rushing total was the most by an OSU freshman, surpassing 124 yards by Lydell Ross last season at Indiana. But Clarett didn’t make too much out of his achievement.

“I’m not going to dwell on it too much,” he said. Asked what he would do to celebrate, he said, “Go home and play NCAA Football” on PlayStation.

Many of the Buckeyes thought they made a statement against the Red Raiders, thought to be tougher than the usual OSU home-opening opponent.

“I think we proved to ourselves that we have the potential to be a really good team this season,” sophomore cornerback Dustin Fox said. “We proved our defense was going to be tough, and our offense answered some questions.”

Junior right tackle Shane Olivea went even further than that. He was incensed after seeing a videotape of the Red Raiders’ comments about the Buckeyes on Friday night.

“They said we didn’t have any Eddie Georges, any Andy Katzenmoyers, players of that stature any more,” junior right tackle Shane Olivea said. “They didn’t have any Zach Thomas, Sheryl Swoopes can’t play football and Bobby Knight can’t coach `em. If we have no superstars, I don’t know what they have. Forty-five points and no superstars, that’s fine with me.