While only in his freshman year at Ohio State University, Clarett helped lead the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2002. He rushed for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns, which helped the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and a 2002 BCS National Championship. Clarett scored the winning touchdown against the University of Miami with a five-yard run in the second overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. He made a game saving defensive play to steal the ball from Hurricanes safety Sean Taylor, who was returning an interception from the end zone of a pass thrown by Craig Krenzel. His heads up play led to an Ohio State field goal, giving the Buckeyes a 10-point. Clarett was the first freshman to be the leading rusher on a national championship team since Ahman Green of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995. Clarett's decision to take on the NFL's draft eligibility rule which requires a player to be three years removed from high school once again launched him into the national spotlight. Clarett's career on & off the field would take a damaging turn for the worse putting his freedom in jeopardy.