Columbus, Ohio — No. 2 Ohio State expects to get back a couple of starters on a banged-up defense that has shown a weakness for giving up big plays all season.
Despite their 30-14 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the Buckeyes – who moved up a spot in the AP Top 25 – looked vulnerable, allowing the Golden Gophers to stack up 396 yards of offense. Walk-on freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad threw two touchdown passes, and freshman tailback Mohamed Ibrahim romped for a career-best 157 yards.
The bend-but-don’t-break Buckeyes should get some help Saturday against Purdue with starting defensive end Jonathan Cooper and starting linebacker Malik Harrison returning, coach Urban Meyer said Monday. Both were in concussion protocol after the Indiana game.
In addition, starting defensive tackle Robert Landers, who has been limited by an unspecified injury, is probable for the game, while starting cornerback Damon Arnette, who was hurt in the Penn State game, is questionable, Meyer said.
“At times you’re in survival mode,” he said.
Of course, the Ohio State defense was thrown out of sorts by defensive end Nick Bosa’s lower abdominal injury and subsequent surgery.
Meyer said Bosa’s progress is being evaluated.
He left the door open when asked if Bosa, an All-American, could return this season.
“Hopeful,” he said.
Kicker Sean Nuernberger’s status is uncertain after he suffered a groin and quad strain warming up before last weekend’s game. In his place, Blake Haubeil made three field goals and three PAT kicks.
Tagovailoa back to practice
Alabama coach Nick Saban expects quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to practice and play against Tennessee this week.
Tagovailoa aggravated a sprained right knee in the third quarter against Missouri Saturday night and didn’t return. Saban said Monday that Tagovailoa is “probably better this week than he was last week” and hasn’t missed a practice.
He says the nation’s highest rated passer could have returned to the Missouri game. The top-ranked Crimson Tide won 39-10 and backup Jalen Hurts played the rest of the way.
Tagovailoa hurt his knee against Arkansas and tweaked it again while sliding on a run.
Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley is out until at least November after ankle surgery.
Coach Chad Morris said Whaley was injured during Saturday’s loss to Mississippi, leaving midway through the third quarter. Fellow running back Rakeem Boyd was injured in the first half for the Razorbacks (1-6, 0-4 SEC).
... The Southeastern Conference has fined fifth-ranked LSU $100,000 for fans rushing the field after the Tigers topped then-No. 2 Georgia 36-16 over the weekend.
The SEC said fines collected against school for violating the competition-area policy are deposited in the league’s post-graduate scholarship fund.
The league said a third violation could lead to a fine of up to $250,000.
... Mississippi receiver D.K. Metcalf is out for the season after suffering a neck injury against Arkansas.
Metcalf, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, currently ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with 569 yards receiving.
... UConn linebacker Eli Thomas has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
The school issued a statement Monday saying Thomas, a 220-pound junior, had the stroke last Wednesday prior to a weightlifting session.
The school says Thomas was immediately transported to a hospital where he is in stable condition and making “good progress toward recovery.”