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Ohio State missing two key starters on defensive line for title game

Tommy Togiai-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai will miss the title game against Alabama. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State missing two key starters on defensive line for title game

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Ohio State has inched closer to full strength, but it isn’t done dealing with adversity even in the national championship.

And the latest setback just so happens to have hit the strongest man on the roster.

The Buckeyes will be without standout defensive tackle Tommy Togiai on Monday night in the high-stakes showdown with Alabama at Hard Rock Stadium. And the Rushmen unit will also be missing rotation regular Tyreke Smith on the edge, fresh off perhaps the finest performance of his career in the Sugar Bowl blowout that punched the ticket to South Florida in the title game.

Ohio State will get a handful of key contributors back in the lineup, though, and clearly the program was never in jeopardy of needing to postpone the College Football Playoff final based on the number of players available. That list includes defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday, which should help offset the loss of Smith and Togiai.

“Any time you deal with that and you lose people, it is a gut punch,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “But it’s not something that we’re not used to. We’ve played games with the majority of our offensive line out. We played the Big Ten Championship game without our top receivers, or some of our top receivers. We’ve had starters all over the place down at different times, and we’ve found ways to work through it. It’s just been the way it is.

Tyreke Smith-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State defensive end Tyreke Smith will miss the title game. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“You can feel sorry for yourself or you can just continue to work on and push through it. The hard thing is at the end of the day most people don’t really care. They just watch the game and the result is the result. But for us, that’s why the story about this season is just so amazing to me, is that we just continued to push through despite all those difficult challenges along the way. It’s no different this week. We’ve got a new set of challenges this week. We’re going to have to figure it out, go down to Miami and play.”

The Buckeyes have officially arrived in the stadium, and the availability report has been finalized. Outside of the absence of those two starters up front and a positive test for kicker Blake Haubeil, Ohio State would appear to have got to the title game about as healthy as could be expected given the COVID problems that have impacted it over the last six weeks.

Here’s the complete list of players cleared to play for Ohio State, keeping in mind that the program doesn’t reveal testing information or specify between injuries or possible disciplinary issues.

Ohio State Game-Time Decisions

  • None

Unavailable Buckeyes

  • CB Cam Brown
  • DL Jacolbe Cowan
  • K Dominic DiMaccio
  • DT Ty Hamilton
  • WR Jaylen Harris
  • K Blake Haubeil
  • OT Dawand Jones
  • LB Cade Kacherski
  • LB Mitchell Melton
  • DE Tyreke Smith
  • DT Tommy Togiai
  • SAF Kourt Williams
  • RB Miyan Williams
Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.