COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Maurice Clarett must be a fast healer.
Returning less than two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery, the freshman sensation rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 6 Ohio State to a 45-17 victory over Indiana in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.
Clarett sat out last week's 23-19 victory over Cincinnati after undergoing surgery on his right knee on September 17. Without their top offensive weapon, the Buckeyes had to rally late to hold off the Bearcats.
"I think we did some things well and some other things we need to improve on," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We felt much better in the second half. I thought we had a little more of a 'we-want-to-put-this-away' attitude. We have a long way to go, but we are anxious to get there."
But Clarett, the Big Ten's rushing and scoring leader, showed no ill effects from the surgery, carrying 21 times against the Hoosiers. He scored all three Ohio State touchdowns in the first half on runs of two, one and four yards to give the Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) a 21-10 lead at the intermission.
Clarett carried four times for 43 yards on Ohio State's first possession of the second half, setting up Chris Gamble's 43-yard TD scamper on a reverse 2:35 into the third quarter.
Clarett, who already has rushed for 575 yards and nine touchdowns, has surpassed the century mark in three of his first four starts, including 230 yards two weeks ago against Washington State.
Indiana (2-3, 0-1) stayed close for most of the first half and pulled within 14-10 on Gibran Hamdan's 17-yard TD pass to Tyke Spencer late in the second period. But Ohio State pulled away with 31 straight points, including 24 in the second half.
Craig Krenzel tossed a four-yard TD pass to Michael Jenkins with 6:38 left in the third to make it 35-10. After Mike Nugent kicked a 51-yard field goal, backup Scott McMullen tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Jenkins to make it 45-10 with just under six minutes to play.
"I thought our passing game played very well and our quarterbacks made some mice reads," Jenkins said. "Coach Tressel made the decision to go with three and four receivers and every one did a nice job. We've been working on our passing game a lot during practice and it worked in the game."
Krenzel completed 11-of-16 passes for 152 yards, while McMullen was 7-of-7 for 65 yards, including a deflected pass to himself.
"We wanted to give them a lot to think about," Tressel said. "Our staff did a nice job. We threw a couple of reverses and spread things out. I thought we did a nice job of giving them a lot of problems and that will help us down the road."
Indiana backup Tommy Jones threw a 30-yard TD strike to Courtney Roby with three minutes left to complete the scoring.
"The biggest disappointment to me was our inability to move the ball in the second half," Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo said. "That was really the difference in the game."
The Hoosiers closed to 14-10 on Hamdan's pass to Spencer with 2:09 left in the first half, but they could not stop Ohio State before the end of the half.
The Buckeyes needed just five plays to answer on Clarett's four-yard TD run, then marched 86 yards on their first possession of the second half.
"We got everything we expected today," Ohio State defensive lineman Darion Scott said. "Indiana came out and played their game. They were physical up front and their quarterback was a tough player."
But the Hoosiers were worn down in the second half, when Ohio State's power took over. A blocked punt set up Krenzel's TD pass to Jenkins that made it 35-10 and put the contest out of reach.
"We didn't have a very good ballgame against Cincinnati and it was very important to come out and get back to our style of football," Scott said. "It was a real boost for us. We gave up some points early, but we regrouped and were able to shut them down."
Ohio State has won nine of its last 10 conference openers and 10 straight against Indiana to take a 61-12-5 lead in the all-time series. The Hoosiers have not won in Columbus since 1987.