All summer long, Ohio State fought for a chance to play this season in hopes of getting back to the College Football Playoff. They wanted so desperately to have a second crack at Clemson after last year's soul-crushing loss.
The Buckeyes got their wish, but it unfortunately comes with some bittersweet news.
While many of the players that missed the Big Ten Championship game have returned and are available tonight (including star wide receiver Chris Olave), the Scarlet and Gray are missing some key players.
Starting running back Master Teague, starting left guard Harry Miller and defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday are among 16 players that are unavailable for Ohio State's College Football Playoff Semifinal against Clemson.
Buckeye safety Ronnie Hickman is a game-time decision.
How will Teague's absence impact the Buckeyes? It's a huge bummer that he's unavailable, but the team has options and depth that can make up for it.
Ryan Day said earlier this week that the idea of being at "full strength" is "a floating target right now ... guys who come off isolation have a protocol to get back on the field … there are certain levels of return to play, depending on the position … we’re getting a lot of guys back, but it’s different this year."
Without both Harry Miller and Enokk Vimahi available, Matthew Jones will almost certainly start at left guard for the Buckeyes. Dawand Jones could also be an option.
But the bigger loss is that of Master Teague, who has been Ohio State's starting running back each game this season. Yes, Trey Sermon just ran for 331 yards against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game. But not having Teague available at all tonight is a tough blow. Teague has 449 yards this year on 89 carries. He's scored six touchdowns and averages nearly 75 yards per game. Teague has over 1,300 rushing yards in his Buckeye career. He and Sermon have shared the load in the backfield all season and the Buckeyes must find a way to run the ball effectively against Clemson.
Whenever Sermon needs a breather, I'm expecting to see Steele Chambers getting some reps.
Here's the entire list of players on Ohio State's status report for tonight, listed in alphabetical order. Please note: individuals listed as unavailable this week may be unavailable because of injury, rehabilitation from of an injury or illness.
SAF Ronnie Hickman
CB Cam Brown
DL Jacolbe Cowan
DE Tyler Friday
OL Josh Fryar
DT Zaid Hamdan
WR Jaylen Harris
DE Zach Harrison
LB Cade Kacherski
OG Harry Miller
TE Joe Royer
RB Master Teague
QB Danny Vanatsky
OG Enokk Vimahi
OL Grant Toutant
SAF Kourt Williams
LB Craig Young
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