Ohio State will have its Beanie back for Southern California.

Buckeyes tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells has been given the OK to play in the showdown at No. 1 USC on Saturday night.

Wells, who rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago, went down with a foot injury in the second half of the fifth-ranked Buckeyes' opener against Youngstown State and did not suit up when Ohio State struggled to beat Ohio University 26-14 last week.

But coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that Wells would definitely play against USC.

"You know, Beanie ran well yesterday," Tressel said. "In fact, he ran better than I thought he might."

The next test for the 6-foot-1, 237-pound Wells is how he feels after going through his first workouts in 10 days.

"The big thing is Tuesday and Wednesday work and will that create soreness," Tressel said. "Not only was he running well, then they (trainers) put him on the bike and wore him out, so they're trying to do all the things. He's been in the underwater treadmill and anything we can do, we're doing (with rehab). I feel good about him."

Wells would seem to be a weapon the Buckeyes (2-0) cannot do without against the fearsome Trojans (1-0) in the first meeting between the two old rivals in 18 years.

Defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson, one of Wells' best friends, said he believes Wells will give the Buckeyes a big lift.

"Beanie told me he was going to play and when Beanie says he's going to do something, he does it," Wilson said. "He's a tremendous competitor. I know when he says he's going to play, to play."

The only catch in Wells' rapid return to action is that he won't really be participating in full-contract workouts until at least Wednesday. Ohio State's trainers will work with him away from the team on Tuesday and then will watch closely when he practices with his teammates a day later.

"If he steps on the field, he's going to give it his best. And his best is pretty good, you know," offensive tackle Bryant Browning said. "Yesterday I saw him running and he said he felt pretty good. He said he wasn't in much pain at all. He said he would be ready."

Tressel said Wells told him, "I'm ready to carry 45 times on Saturday."

That doesn't mean he'll get the chance, however.

"He's not going to carry 45 if he's not effective," Tressel said. "He's like every other kid, he wants to play and he's going to do all he can do and his effectiveness will be, in large part, based upon what the other guys do. If they block people, he can be effective. If they don't, it will be harder."

Last year Wells averaged 124 rushing yards on 21 carries per game. Dan Herron (12 carries, 50 yards), Maurice Wells (9 for 48) and Brandon Saine (5 for 15) combined for 113 yards on 26 carries against Ohio, which led 14-6 midway through the third quarter and 14-12 heading into the fourth.

"They ran hard. They combined for a pretty decent total," wide receiver Brian Hartline said. Hartline said their numbers might have been even more impressive except for some listless and out-of-sync play by the rest of the offense.

Wells isn't the only addition to the lineup, either. Starting cornerback Donald Washington and backup Jamario O'Neal both return as well after serving two-game suspensions for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

They figure to give the Buckeyes a shot of depth and talent in a secondary that has been stretched thin during their absence.

Asked if Washington would take his accustomed place at field corner, making Chimdi Chekwa, who started the past two games, a backup and nickel back, Tressel grinned.

"Tune in," he said.

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