Junior will open season as starting running back

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Hall will start at tailback for
Ohio State in place of the suspended Maurice Clarett when the
defending national champions play Washington on Saturday night.

Hall, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior, got the nod over classmate
Lydell Ross.

Ohio State running backs coach Tim Spencer confirmed that Hall
would take the first snap when the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes host No.
17 Washington.

"Maurice Hall has been the guy who's been there consistently,"
Spencer said. "He's been there the whole time. ... He's been the
guy, to me, who deserves to be in there when we crank it up on the
first snap."

Clarett, who set school freshman records last year with 1,237
yards rushing and 18 touchdowns, is suspended while Ohio State
looks into an exaggerated theft report he filed with campus police
last April. Clarett is practicing with the team, but athletic
director Andy Geiger said Thursday that he would not play in at
least the first three games.

Hall, who has battled a sore knee this month, scored the winning
touchdowns for the Buckeyes in overtime against Illinois and in the
final 4:55 against rival Michigan last year.

Ross missed most of preseason camp with a pulled muscle in his