EVANSTON, Illinois (Ticker) -- Maurice Clarett often played more like an 18-year-old freshman than a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he was still too much for Northwestern.
Clarett fumbled three times but ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns as No. 5 Ohio State downed Northwestern, 27-16, to win its 14th consecutive game in Evanston since a 21-0 loss to the Ara Parseghian-coached Wildcats in 1958.
The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) struggled against the nation's 116th-ranked defense before taking a 14-9 lead on a two-yard run by Clarett with 2:43 to play in the second quarter.
Northwestern subsequently was stopped on three plays within the Ohio State 5-yard line and David Wasielewski missed a short field goal wide left with 32 seconds remaining in the half.
"It was real critical," Wildcats coach Randy Walker said. "The biggest series was the goal-line stand. They made some big stops. We knew going in we were playing one of the best rushing defenses in the country and they made some great plays against our running game."
After Wasielewski missed another field goal with 11:16 to go in the third quarter, Clarett capped an 11-play, 78-yard drive with a 20-yard run to the right corner to extend the Buckeyes' advantage to 24-9.
"We try to do the best we can putting the guys in the game that we think will help us," Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said. "I've never been one that says a guy makes a mistake and he needs to go sit and think about it for a month."
Clarett, who had more than 100 rushing yards for the fourth time in five games, leads the Big Ten with 12 touchdowns.
"It's tough, no matter how good a back you are, to (hold onto the ball) when someone gets a helmet on the ball," Walker said. "But I'm amazed at how mature and complete a player he is."
Jason Wright, who had 199 all-purpose yards, countered with a nine-yard TD run with 1:57 to play in the period to make it 24-16 but the Wildcats were blanked thereafter.
"I'm really frustrated about being close," Wright said. "Being close is not acceptable, and it's not a consolation. I was not brought up that way and the other guys in the locker room were not brought up that way. Almost does not count and until we're almost anymore, we're not going to be pleased."
Craig Krenzel was a mistake-free 11-of-22 for 170 yards for Ohio State, which has not been 6-0 since 1998, when it won its first eight games and finished 11-1.
"I though Craig Krenzel made good decisions," Tressel said of his signal-caller who also ran for 62 yards. "(He) had a good command of the game, did a good job of getting us in the right place, threw the ball fairly effectively when he did and stepped up and ran when the opportunity was there."
Redshirt freshman Brett Basanez went 24-of-45 for 283 yards and one interception for the Wildcats (2-4, 0-2), who lost their 23rd straight contest against the Buckeyes since a triumph in Columbus in 1971.
Clarett fumbled twice in the first quarter, which ended with Northwestern ahead, 6-0. The running back was pulled in favor of Lydell Ross, who scored on a four-yard run to put the Buckeyes ahead, 7-6, with 13:15 to play in the second quarter.
Later in the period, Basanez appeared to throw a TD pass to Mark Philmore in the front right corner of the end zone, but the receiver was ruled to be bobbling the ball before falling out of bounds. Wasielewski ended the drive with a 37-yard field goal with 5:20 to play to put the Wildcats ahead for the final time, 9-7.
"I'm disappointed for our kids, but I'm proud of our kids," Walker said. "I'm proud of the effort they gave. I thought our preparation was good and we gave ourselves a chance to win a game against a very good football team. There are critical plays in every game. Tonight, Ohio State made them and we didn't."