The starting Ohio State offensive line, 80 percent new this season, has graded out at a championship level 100 percent of the time so far this season.
Wyatt Davis confirmed that gives the Buckeyes something to play for no matter the level of competition they might face on a given Saturday.
“Yes, so that’s another thing that’s kind of added to our own little rivalry thing,” the sophomore guard said. “I mean, right now I think Jonah (Jackson) has the most knockdowns, so everyone’s kind of trying to knock him off top so it adds its own friendly little rivalry to it.
“Obviously if the whole offensive line is grading out champion and you’re not you don’t want to be that guy, so it pushes us to work harder in practice and to go harder in the games.”
Davis and Jackson, a senior grad transfer from Rutgers, join center Josh Myers and right tackle Branden Bowen as the newcomers to a unit that returns only Thayer Munford from last season.
Although Davis moved into the starting lineup late last season after an injury to Demetrius Knox and Bowen started for part of the 2017 season before suffering a season-ending injury, the group did not start playing together until August.
Their play has quickly gone from a question mark to an exclamation point in the first month of the season for the 3-0 sixth-ranked Buckeyes, who play host to Miami University on Saturday.
“People were already making assumptions about us before the season even started,” Davis said. “You know, we lost a lot of guys, so that’s really just been an emphasis on kind of getting up on teams early and trying to assert your dominance as early as you can in a game.
“So far up to this point, I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of doing it,” he added. “Obviously, you know, we’re still looking at ways to get better as the weeks go on. We’ve definitely been trying to play physical and play hard, so I think we’ve been doing a fair job with that.”
On the other side of the ball, Ohio State has formed a three-headed monster at nose tackle that includes Wayne graduate Robert “BB” Landers.
>>READ MORE: ‘Best on best’ in practice makes Buckeyes better
“We just try to go into games, play our game and impact the game the best we can,” said Landers, a starter a season ago who has come off the bench behind fellow senior Davon Hamilton the past two games after starting next to him in the season-opener when tackle Jashon Cornell moved to end to cover for a spate of injuries there. “Between me and him and Tommy Togiai as well, all three of us have different styles of play and we understand where we fit into the defense.”
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Hamilton is a massive presence in the middle who remains impressively mobile.
Landers, the smallest of the team’s tackles at 6-1, 285, keeps opposing offensive lines off balance with his quickness and natural leverage.
Togiai, a 6-3, 300-pound sophomore, is a ball of strength who is still learning the game from the two seniors, but the four-star recruit from Idaho might have the highest ceiling of the trio.
“Tommy pushes the both of us, we push Tommy, and then we try to help develop him mentally just because we’ve been here so much longer, just as far as understanding the game and different things that you might see in the game,” Landers said.
Hamilton has five tackles so far this season, including one for loss. Landers has half a sack among his four stops this season while Togiai has three tackles, including one for loss.
“We all feed off of each other, and I want to say one of the biggest thing is we get happier for each other’s success than we do our own,” Landers said.
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