4 starters among 23 players out for Ohio State

Ohio State will be without three starting offensive lineman and starting linebacker Tuf Borland, a three-time captain, for Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

The Buckeyes’ pregame status report lists Borland out, along with offensive line starters Thayer Munford, Josh Myers and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Key reserves like safety Josh Proctor and defensive end Tyler Friday, who started the opener, also will be unavailable against the Spartans.

In total, 23 Ohio State players are listed as out, several of whom also appeared on the previous status report before its Nov. 21 game against Indiana.

“This has been a difficult week for everybody,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day told ESPN’s College GameDay. “Two of the last three weeks have been canceled, and so it’s been an emotional roller-coaster. This is an opportunity for our guys to really show their leadership and what this team is made of. We’re short-handed, but it’s going to be a great day.”

Ohio State doesn’t list the reasons why players miss games on its report. The team canceled last week’s game at Illinois after a rise in COVID-19 cases among players and staff.

Day also tested positive and will not coach Saturday against Michigan State. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Larry Johnson will lead the team.

“This is a great opportunity in a strange year to show how resilient our team is, how tough our team is, and it’s all about winning,” Day told College GameDay. “You win, you move on — it doesn’t matter what it looks like. We’re shorthanded. We’re down some guys. But we’re gonna rally the team together and find a way to win. And it doesn’t matter how it looks. You just have to leave East Lansing with a win … and then we’ll figure out what next week looks like.”

Borland is tied for second on the team with 19 tackles and boasts 199 for his career, including 18 for loss and six sacks. He has started 31 games for Ohio State and appeared in 46.

Meyers and Petit-Frere have started Ohio State’s first four games at offensive tackle, while Myers has started the first four at center. Freshman offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. also is unavailable for Saturday’s game.

“We’re going to have some starters in there who haven’t played a lot of football,” Day said of the offensive line on College GameDay. “You come to Ohio State for a reason. You don’t come to Ohio State because it’s easy. You come here because it’s hard, and this is a great opportunity for those guys to step up.”

Team physician Dr. Jim Borchers on Friday said Ohio State’s population positivity rate, which had exceeded the Big Ten’s threshold and led to the Illinois cancelation, has “now returned on the seven-day rolling average to a level that allows us to compete safely this weekend.”

Big Ten policy requires players who test positive to miss a minimum of 21 days, which includes cardiac screening and reconditioning before clearance.

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