PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Ohio State isn’t completely healthy as it returns to Big Ten action.
But the Buckeyes are getting much closer, and a handful of regulars are heading back into the rotation at just the right time.
Senior defensive end Tyreke Smith and backup running back Miyan Williams will miss the matchup on Saturday afternoon at Rutgers. But the availability report the program released before heading to SHI Stadium no longer included a few names that could make a major difference for the Buckeyes.
“I think that in four games you’ve seen a lot of progress across the board,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said early in the week. “But there’s still a lot to be done. If we’re going to get to where we want to be this season, then these guys have to continue to build — and it’s everybody.
“It’s not just the young guys. It’s the older guys who maybe haven’t played as much either. And it’s just continuing to get back to work. … So here we are back in conference play, and I think we’re better than we were four weeks ago.”
The Buckeyes will be stronger as well with left guard Thayer Munford cleared after dealing with a lower-leg injury. Cornerback Cameron Brown is getting a green light after sitting out last week for what appeared to be precautionary reasons. And defensive linemen Taron Vincent and Javontae Jean-Baptiste will also beef up the depth in the trenches after missing the easy win over Akron.
The Buckeyes also have their starting quarterback in the lineup again after C.J. Stroud was rested with a sore shoulder in the final nonconference matchup of the regular season. The absence of Smith will continue to put pressure on some freshmen to supply a pass rush and missing Williams almost certainly guarantees a heavy workload for TreVeyon Henderson — but both of those situations are manageable.
Ohio State still doesn’t have a completely-healthy roster. But the Buckeyes aren’t that far off as the urgency to defend the Big Ten crown ramps up again.
The full availability report from the program is below, making note that Ohio State doesn’t reveal specific injury information or designate possible disciplinary absences.
Ohio State Game-Time Decisions
- LB Palaie Gaoteote
- WR Kamryn Babb
- WR Julian Fleming
- DE Tyler Friday
- DL Mike Hall
- DL Darrion Henry-Young
- DB Jakailin Johnson
- DB Jaylen Johnson
- LB Mitchell Melton
- DL Noah Potter
- DB Josh Proctor
- K Jake Seibert
- DE Tyreke Smith
- RB Miyan Williams