COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- The competition gets better, and so does freshman Maurice Clarett.
Clarett rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries as eighth-ranked Ohio State posted a 25-7 victory over No. 11 Washington State.
It was the sixth-highest rushing total in Ohio State history and the second-best mark by a freshman, topped only by Archie Griffin, who ran for 239 yards agains North Carolina in 1972.
Clarett said he wants to be a crowd pleaser. So far, he has not disappointed.
"Some people look forward to Ohio State games the entire week," he said. "I want to make sure people get their money's worth, whether they're sitting in 'A' deck or way up in 'C' deck."
Clarett, the first freshman tailback to start a season opener for Ohio State (3-0) since World War II, already has rushed for 469 yards and seven touchdowns. The Buckeyes' first two games were against Texas Tech and Kent State, a pair of unranked teams.
"Their running game was very dominant today," Washington State coach Mike Price said. "Clarett is a very good back who is difficult to tackle."
Washington State (2-1) grabbed a 7-3 lead on Jason Gesser's five-yard TD pass to Devard Darling with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter.
But Ohio State's defense dominated thereafter and the Buckeyes wore down the Cougars behind Clarett, who gained 194 yards in the second half.
"I wasn't being patient in the first half," Clarett said. "(Running backs coach Tim) Spencer told me to just start being more patient and the holes would open up. We wanted to come out in the second half and be a better team."
"Maurice reminds me a lot of Eddie (George) with his work ethic," Spencer said. "He comes to play every day. He displays excellent effort on the practice field and I think the guys see that and respect that."
Ohio State relied heavily on its running game as Craig Krenzel completed just 4-of-10 passes for only 71 yards. The Cougars were held to just 17 yards on the ground.
In the final minutes, fans at Ohio Stadium, began mocking Washington State with chants of "overrated." The Buckeyes improved to 8-0 all-time against the Cougars, who were not tested in their first two games, defeating Nevada, 31-7, and Idaho, 49-14.
Gesser completed 25-of-44 passes for 247 yards, but was intercepted twice. He passed Timm Rosenbach (1986-88) for fourth place on Washington State's career passing yards list.
"What changed the most from the first half to the second is that they began to hit me, causing me to miss some of my primary targets," Gesser said.
Ohio State trailed 7-6 at halftime, but took the lead for good on Clarett's three-yard TD run with 8:37 left in the third quarter.
"In the first half we were beating ourselves," Ohio State linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. "We were only one point at halftime to a really good team. We knew if we made the proper adjustments that we would be fine. There were putting a lot of pressure on us early."
Mike Nugent kicked a 45-yard field goal, his third of the game, to make it 16-7 with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
Following a safety, Clarett completed the scoring with a one-yard scamper 4:19 into the final period.
"We hurt ourselves a lot today on offense," Gesser said. "It's frustrating when we know we can move the ball. We were not able to put the ball in the end zone when it mattered. Today we stopped ourselves a lot by not executing."