The reinforcements continue to trickle in for the Buckeyes.
A week after he was listed as a game-time decision before sitting out his team's win against Nebraska, right tackle Branden Bowen will return to action for Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan State game. The Buckeyes will also have defensive end Tyreke Smith back for the showdown under the lights after he missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury that he aggravated in his team's victory at Indiana.
Three players who have been banged up at times this season – H-back C.J. Saunders, defensive end Tyler Friday and tight end Rashod Berry – are classified as game-time decisions, per Ohio State's status report released Friday morning.
|Ohio State Status Report for Michigan State|
TE Rashod Berry
DE Tyler Friday
H-B C.J. Saunders
WR Kamryn Babb
LB Teradja Mitchell
S Ronnie Hickman
WR Ellijah Gardiner
DT Taron Vincent
DT Noah Donald (walk-on)
Teradja Mitchell remains listed as unavailable for the second week in a row. Ellijah Gardiner, who did not play last week, is unavailable for the first time this season. Taron Vincent has not played this season, and he'll remain out on Saturday. Ronnie Hickman and Kamryn Babb remain out with long-term injuries, too.
The status report does not dictate a reason for any player's unavailability, and nor does it reference a time frame of when to expect a return.
Joshua Alabi filled in for Bowen last week at right tackle and performed well enough in the spot start to earn offensive player of the game honors. With Bowen back, he will start at right tackle on Saturday.
Smith's return further aids an Ohio State pass rush that added Jonathon Cooper back to the mix last week. Smith has only played 41 combined snaps in two games, having missed the season opener and the past two games due to injury, but he has shown flashes of becoming an impactful edge rusher when on the field. He picked up his first career sack in his season debut versus Cincinnati.
Saunders has missed all five games this season due to injury. The walk-on-turned-captain might have a chance to make his senior season debut this weekend. He walked into Ohio Stadium using a crutch for the season opener and was seen before games with a compression sleeve on his left knee in following weeks. If Saunders plays, he'll add depth behind K.J. Hill at H-back.
After not playing in the season opener due to an undisclosed injury, Friday has played in every game since. Listed as a game-time decision, though, it's unclear whether or not he'll miss his second game of the year. Friday has four tackles and one sack this season.
Berry also has played in every game since missing the first game of the season. He has one catch for 16 yards this season but has performed well enough as a blocker to have graded out a champion in two games, including last week.