Ohio State confirms suspension of Clifford for title game

Updated: December 20, 2007, 5:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Top-ranked Ohio State suspended backup cornerback Eugene Clifford for violating team rules and said Thursday that Clifford will not play in the Allstate BCS Championship Game against LSU.

WCMH-TV and The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday that Buckeyes cornerback Donald Washington also was suspended for the title game, but an Ohio State spokesperson said Thursday that is not the case. Athletic director Gene Smith declined Thursday to confirm the suspensions, but said there was "work to be done."

Ohio State issued a statement Thursday afternoon announcing Clifford's suspension.

Clifford was a prized recruit last spring after receiving all-state and several national honors during his days at Colerain High School. Clifford, who has played in four games, totaling eight tackles, was listed as Malcolm Jenkins' backup at outside corner on the Buckeyes' latest two-deep chart.

Washington is a sophomore who has started every game for the Buckeyes (11-1). He played a key role in an Ohio State defense ranked among the best in the nation. He has 34 tackles, tied for seventh-best on the team with lineman Vernon Gholston, and also has two tackles for losses, one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Washington started at nickel back a year ago and moved into the starting spot at field corner this spring. In a 48-3 win over Kent State on Oct. 13, he returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown and recorded his first career sack.

With him out of the lineup, redshirt freshman Chimdi Chekwa would most likely move into the starting position.

The Buckeyes' final workout before the holidays was on Wednesday. They will be off until returning on Dec. 26, then will practice for a week before flying to New Orleans on Jan. 2.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad was used in this report.