Alabama Football: The Ohio State Buckeyes are scheduled to arrive in Miami early Saturday night. Roster numbers are maybe not as bad as rumored.
The Alabama football program is not different from the Ohio State Buckeyes in one way. Neither side wants to give the other any information it does not have to disclose. Night will have already fallen north of Miami Monday night before the Buckeyes release information on player availability for the National Championship game.
Rumors have been swirling for days and they will continue until the teams hit the field. To the extent there is information, it is coming from the conjecture of fans and a few insiders shared through social media and message boards.
We, like many Alabama football fans, have followed it closely. We can only state what we think could be true and what we are sure is not yet known.
The Buckeyes have a COVID problem the Crimson Tide does not have. Perhaps that is because the Alabama football program did a better job protecting players, coaches and staff from the virus. There have been many Crimson Tide insider comments about many players having the virus over the summer. Medical experts say antibodies developed to defeat the virus result in a high degree of immunity.
If luck is an appropriate word, it can be said the Crimson Tide has been luckier than the Buckeyes. Hopefully, that luck holds. There are mixed reports of whether Friday’s player’s tests will be the last before the game. It’s been rumored that for at least one Ohio State player, a negative test on Sunday or Monday will be required to play.
There is too much Buckeyes’ chatter about depth issues on the defensive line, for the fan concerns to not be real. It sounds like three Ohio State defensive lineman may be out. The names most mentioned are Tyreke Smith, Taron Vincent and Antwaun Jackson. Another player OSU fans are hoping can play is Tommy Togiai. Multiple OSU message boards claim Togiai had a false positive COVID test and will be able to play. If he can, even without the three players listed above, the Buckeyes will have an eight-man defensive line rotation.
There are also multiple rumors backup running back, Miyan Williams will miss the game because of COVID. The tradeoff for Ryan Day is the far more experienced running back, Master Teague is reportedly available after recovering from a concussion.
The Buckeyes may or may not be getting starting offensive lineman Harry Miller back. Miller missed the Sugar Bowl due to COVID. If or when he was cleared is not known.
Ohio State season stats are available here. A quick look will show the three most probable, unavailable defensive linemen have a combined 21 tackles this season. Ohio State fans are confident that if Togiai can play, the Buckeyes have enough defensive line talent and depth to handle the Crimson Tide.
In addition to worrying about what Buckeyes will or will not play, Ohio State must also worry about and prepare for Jaylen Waddle. His ability to play may not be known until after dark on Monday as well.