The Ohio State pass defense has struggled all season and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better for them in the Orange Bowl against the Tigers on Friday, especially since they may be a few key players short. It was reported earlier in the week that defensive end Noah Spence did not make the trip to Miami because he was dealing with a personal issue. We now know that the personal issue he was dealing with was a ruling by the Big Ten of his use of an unapproved dietary supplement; something they have decided to suspend him three games for, including the Orange Bowl. Urban Meyer hoped Spence would be able to clear it up and get the suspension overturned in time to make it for the Orange Bowl, but it appears that’s not the case.
Losing Spence is a big loss for the Buckeyes. He led the team in sacks and was second in tackles for loss and is a vital part of the improvements the Ohio State pass defense is trying to make for the Orange Bowl in order to stop Clemson’s passing attack. Jamal Marcus will start in his place.
The other key players Ohio State may be missing are All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby, whose status is uncertain for the Orange Bowl since he is rehabbing from a knee injury, middle linebacker Curtis Grant has been bothered by back and ankle injuries that really limit his playing time and then there’s safety Christian Bryant, who suffered a broken ankle against the Wisconsin Badgers on Sept. 28, and will not be healthy enough in time to play on Friday.
Freshman Vonn Bell will make a start in the Orange Bowl as a nickel cornerback, while redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell will move from that spot to the safety position with senior C.J. Barnett.
Hopefully these replacements will be able to step up and allow the Ohio State pass defense to slow down Tajh Boyd and Clemson. If not, then the Buckeyes could be in big trouble, especially if Braxton Miller and the rest of the offense are not able to bail them out.