As Ohio State tries to pull out of its two-game tailspin to start Big Ten play, it will do so without defensive end Nathan Williams.

As Ohio State tries to pull out of its two-game tailspin to start Big Ten play, it will do so without defensive end Nathan Williams.

Out since the first game of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Williams is scheduled to have his knee surgically repaired again, this time with a micro-fracture procedure that is intended to generate cartilage growth.

"Nathan Williams probably will not be with us the rest of the year," OSU coach Luke Fickell said today at his weekly news conference.

The OSU defense could have used some help in the last 22 minutes on Saturday night, when the Buckeyes gave up 28 unanswered points to lose 34-27 at Nebraska. The result was the greatest comeback in Nebraska history and the greatest blown lead in the modern era for the Buckeyes, coming on the heels of the 10-7 loss to Michigan State.

Along the way the Buckeyes also saw starting freshman quarterback Braxton Miller helped from the field with a right-ankle sprain midway through the third quarter, and the offense dissolved without him. But Fickell said that Miller is progressing well and is expected to start when the team goes to unbeaten No.16 Illinois on Saturday.

The big question is who will be his backup? Senior Joe Bauserman again had a rough outing in place of Miller on Saturday night, going 1 for 10 passing as the Buckeyes could do nothing to stem the tide. Fickell didn't throw Bauserman under the bus, but he did offer this: "Ultimately it comes down to performing and making plays."

That should mean more of a serious look at sophomore Kenny Guiton as the primary backup.

All Fickell would say is that Guiton "will probably get more and more opportunities in the weeks to come."

tmay@dispatch.com