Coming into the 2020 season, Ohio State knew its offensive line was going to be in good hands with three returning starters in Thayer Munford, Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis.
Harry Miller and Nicholas Petit-Frere stepped right into their respective starting roles and, boom, the Buckeyes were averaging a B1G best 275.6 rushing yards per game, good for seventh in the nation.
But the offensive line really showed up and showed out in its last three games against Michigan State, Northwestern and, now, Clemson, despite missing a total of four starters across those games.
Next man up.
Munford, Myers and Petit-Frere all missed the Michigan State game - and the Buckeyes rushed for 322 yards anyways. Trey Sermon had his best game in Scarlet and Gray (to that point) while Justin Fields also rushed for a career-high.
The unit reunited in the B1G Championship game and helped power Sermon to a B1G Championship and Ohio State record 331 yards and looked to be in good shape heading into the College Football Playoff Semifinal rematch with Clemson.
COVID-19 had other plans, though. Hours before kickoff, it was reported that Miller was out due to a positive test. Next man up, Matthew Jones, filled in admirably at left guard.
Then Jones went down with an injury in the first half and Davis went down with an injury of his own in the second half. Suddenly, it was “next man up” again, this time for Dawand Jones and Paris Johnson. While both Matthew Jones and Davis were able to eventually return to the field, the Buckeyes never flinched and rushed for a total of 254 yards, including another monster performance from Sermon.
“It just speaks to the culture of our offensive line room,” Myers said. “I think it speaks to Coach Stud [Greg Studrawa] as a coach and the players that we have in the room. Those guys did a great job filling in and coming in whenever they needed to and they did exactly what was asked of them. Those are grown men. They were put in a tough situation. That’s a terribly hard game to come into off the bench. There’s just stuff going on everywhere, blitzes everywhere, it’s confusing. I just think it speaks to our offensive line room and, really, our whole team is like that. It just speaks to our culture.”
The Buckeyes’ offensive line will look to continue its dominance as Ohio State takes on Alabama in the national championship game on January 11.
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