COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer is back, but everything else will pretty much stay the same this week for Ohio State.
Meyer’s banishment from the sideline on Saturdays ends when fourth-ranked Ohio State (3-0) plays host to Tulane (1-2) at Ohio Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN) in its final nonconference tuneup before heading to Penn State next week for a major showdown.
During the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday, Meyer said Ryan Day, the co-offensive coordinator who took over as acting head coach during Meyer’s suspension, will stay on the sideline this week to call plays.
Meyer plans to be more of a “game manager” as he transitions to being back on the field while letting Day and co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson run the offense.
“I help where I need to help,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes remained unbeaten last week with a 40-28 victory over then-No. 15 TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Getting past the Horned Frogs proved to be a bit of a challenge, but a 20-point scoring burst in the third quarter helped to seal the outcome.
The one noticeable difference in the Buckeyes this week will be the absence of All-American defensive end Nick Bosa. The extraordinary junior pass rusher left the game against TCU in the third quarter with a lower abdominal/groin injury.
Meyer said Bosa, who is “one of the best players” he has coached, will sit out against Tulane and that the medical staff will know more later in the week how long he might be sidelined.
Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones helped offset Bosa’s absence with a monster game against TCU that included an interception return for a touchdown, a sack, two tackles for loss and numerous quarterback pressures.
“Hell of a day,” Meyer said.
If there’s one position grouping where Ohio State could afford to lose a high-caliber player, it’s the defensive line. In addition to Jones, defensive ends Chase Young and Jonathan Cooper, defensive tackle Robert Landers and nose tackle Davon Hamilton are formidable.
Meyer said that Landers has an undisclosed injury and is probable for Saturday. He also said backup running back Brian Snead will return after missing last week’s game for disciplinary reasons.
At a 55-minute news conference on Monday, Meyer spent almost the entire time discussing the fallout from his handling of the ugly domestic situation involving former assistant Zach Smith and his ex-wife, Courtney. He did not address this week’s game other than his reference to the Bosa injury.
Tulane, whose only win has come against FCS school Nicholls State, undoubtedly will be challenged to stop Ohio State’s lethal offense led by rifle-armed sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a two-headed monster at running back with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, and an overflowing stable of wide receivers.
With the pass-first Haskins behind center, quarterback runs haven’t been part of the plan, as usually is the case with Meyer offenses, particularly most of the previous four years with J.T. Barrett as the quarterback.
“It’s a little different style of offense,” Meyer said. “A lot of the same concepts.”
But so far it’s working. Ohio State ranks second nationally in scoring offense (56.3 points per game), third in total offense (608.7 yards per game) and ninth in passing (348.0 yards per game).
Tulane’s visit comes on the heels of a 31-24 loss last week at UAB. Three turnovers and six sacks in that game and a penalty that nullified a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter doomed the Green Wave.
“We just have to get over it,” Tulane wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “We have a big game next week. We can change things next week.”
As much as that loss stung, Tulane’s players recognize that they must quickly move on to prepare for a juggernaut this week.
The Green Wave have not beaten a ranked opponent since 1984 when they knocked off Vanderbilt.
“We have to take this game and learn from it,” cornerback Donnie Lewis said of the loss to UAB. “We’ll watch film, flush it and move on to the next opponent. We’re going to stick to the script.”