While Ohio State looked impressive in its 40-28 victory on Sept. 15 over then-No. 15 TCU, the Buckeyes did suffer one significant loss in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Defensive end Nick Bosa, a preseason first-team All-American, went down with at the time was reported to be an abdominal injury.
Bosa ended up undergoing core muscle surgery and there is currently no timetable for his return. It's entirely possible that Bosa may not play for Ohio State again, as it's widely expected he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft after the season.
Prior to the injury, Bosa was tied for the Big Ten lead with four sacks. The Buckeyes easily passed their first test without Bosa in the lineup, dominating Tulane 49-6 at home, holding the Green Wave to a single touchdown (PAT was blocked) and 256 total yards, only 100 on the ground (2.4 ypc). There were four sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. But beating an American Athletic Conference opponent is one thing, up next for Ohio State is a Saturday night showdown in Happy Valley against No. 9 Penn State.
So who are the defensive linemen that the Buckeyes will rely on to try and slow down the nation's No. 1-ranked scoring offense (55.5 ppg)?
A redshirt junior, Jones contemplated leaving Ohio State after last season to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Jones is now the most tenured of the Buckeyes' defensive linemen and has three sacks in four games. It is because of plays like the one below versus TCU that Jones was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
A true sophomore, Young has been earmarked for stardom since he arrived on campus in 2017. Young has moved into the starting rotation as a sophomore, and has been disruptive as a pass rusher, earning two sacks so far this season.
Lost in the shuffle is Cooper. A junior defensive end, Cooper has been a part of the rotation up front the past two seasons but is in his first as a starter. Bosa and Young may be the headliners at defensive end, but Cooper was a highly regarded recruit in his own right and he has been able to make big plays when on the field. He had a sack against TCU and helped block the extra point attempt in the win over Tulane.
An interior defensive lineman, Landers did not play against Tulane due to injury, but should be back for the Penn State game. Landers is adept at clogging the interior of the line, making it difficult for the opposition to run between the tackles. Landers is a redshirt junior, and can be overlooked as a pass rusher, but he's a tough matchup due to his quickness.
While Jones, Young, Cooper and Landers may not have the name recognition of Bosa, Ohio State fans who have followed the team are very familiar with all of these players. It is now up to them to show college football fans around the country that they are up to the challenge that's ahead of them as they go forward without Bosa.