Despite an October heatwave in the Midwest finally breaking, the Ohio State football resembles a first-place baseball team slogging through the dog days of summer.
An odd August and a challenging September are behind the Buckeyes. November, the month when so much is usually determined in college football, is not far away.
First, though, coach Urban Meyer’s team has a trip to Purdue for a 7:30 p.m. game Saturday. After a week off, they will begin the home stretch by hosting currently winless Nebraska on Nov. 3.
The second-ranked Buckeyes will head to West Lafayette for the first time in five years after two lackluster performances so far this month.
Injuries played a role in the 49-26 win over Indiana two weeks ago and last week’s 30-14 victory over Minnesota being closer than expected, and Meyer had good news on that front when he met with the media for the first time this week.
Wayne graduate Robert Landers, a starting defensive tackle who aggravated an undisclosed injury Saturday against the Golden Gophers, is probable according to Meyer. So is left tackle Thayer Munford, who left the Minnesota game with a rolled ankle and has been battling a hip injury.
The news is even better for defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison, who are both expected to be back this week after leaving the Indiana game with concussions and sitting out last week.
Cornerback Damon Arnette, whose injury has not been disclosed publicly, is questionable, while Meyer did not offer an update on defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who has been playing with a leg injury.
The Buckeyes could no doubt use all of them at their best against a Boilermakers team that has won three in a row after starting 0-3. Coach Jeff Brohm’s team has one of the best offenses in college football with quarterback David Bough third in the Big Ten with 1,695 yards passing.
“Obviously big road game, a team that is very good on film, obviously, and scoring a lot of points,” Meyer said. “We’ve got to get some guys healthy and get ready to go.”
If the Buckeyes, after playing eight games in eight weeks, are dragging physical or mentally (or both) at this point, they likely will see a Purdue team on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Boilermakers had the first Saturday of October off then thrashed Illinois 46-7 last week. Next they get Ohio State in front of a home crowd with the added hype of a prime-time national television broadcast on ABC.
“For our guys on our team, this is one of the reasons you come to Purdue for, to play in games like this on the big stage against traditional powerhouse opponents that are if not the best team in the country, the second-best team in the country right now, according to the polls,” said Brohm, who is in his second season at Purdue. “They have won a lot of football games and they have beaten a lot of good teams, and right now they are the best team in our conference and right now we get a chance to play against them and see where we stack up.”
Bosa Status Still Unknown
Meyer had an update on injured All-American defensive end Nick Bosa — sort of. Maybe it was more of a preview of an update.
“I believe he’s flying back up there tomorrow to get rechecked,” Meyer said of Bosa, who had surgery in Philadelphia to repair a core muscle injury Sept. 20.
Perhaps that means there will be an updated timetable this week, though since suffering the injury Bosa hasn’t been expected back before November.
Will he definitely done the Scarlet and Gray again this season?
“I’m hoping,” Meyer said.
Kicking Controversy Coming?
Along with the injuries shaking up the defense, there is question about who will be Ohio State’s kicker. Sean Nuernberger’s status is uncertain after he suffered a groin and quad strain in warmups last weekend.
In his place, Blake Haubeil made all three of his field goal attempts and was perfect on three PAT kicks against the Gophers.
“Blake came in and really hammered the ball, a good job,” Meyer said. “He was special teams player of the game.”
Asked if Haubeil could keep the job even when Nuernberger is healthy again, Meyer said, “It’s open for discussion.”
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