Ohio State to be without defensive linemen Tommy Togiai, Tyreke Smith for title game

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ohio State will be without two of its starting defensive linemen when it faces Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday night.

A status report released by the team 75 minutes ahead of kickoff confirmed defensive tackle Tommy Togiai and defensive end Tyreke Smith would be unavailable.

It adds to the Buckeyes’ challenge in matching up against a Crimson Tide offensive line that is considered to be among the best country, a recipient of the Joe Moore Award as the best unit in college football.

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Togiai is second on the team in sacks with three, while Smith has one. Both were disruptive in the backfield in the Sugar Bowl win over Clemson on New Year’s Day, pressuring quarterback Trevor Lawrence and paving the way for the Buckeyes to reach the national title game.

Through seven games, Smith led the Buckeyes with 33 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Togiai has 24 pressures, third-most on the team.

While Smith and Togiai are sidelined, the Buckeyes do bring back sophomore defensive end Zach Harrison, who did not play in the semifinal. Harrison was announced as the starting defensive end in place of Smith, while fellow sophomore Taron Vincent is to take the place of Togiai in the starting lineup.

Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai (72) celebrates a sack with Haskell Garrett (92) during the fourth quarter against Indiana.

Alabama’s offensive line is not at full strength, either, though, as center Landon Dickerson suffered a knee injury ahead of the playoff. Dickerson was selected as the Rimington Trophy winner last week as the nation’s top center.

Though missing the semifinal win against Notre Dame and expected to miss the rest of the season, Dickerson was taking part in pregame warmups.

The Buckeyes are also without their placekicker Blake Haubeil, who announced he tested positive COVID-19 in a post on Instagram.

But some of their other starters are expected to return between left guard Harry Miller and running back Master Teague III.

Miller was out for the Sugar Bowl due to a positive COVID-19 test, while Teague was injured in the Big Ten championship game.

Thirteen players will be unavailable for Ohio State, a total that also includes cornerback Cam Brown, defensive lineman Jacolbe Cowan, placekicker Dominic DiMaccio, defensive tackle Ty Hamilton, wide receiver Jaylen Harris, offensive tackle Dawand Jones, linebacker Cade Kacherski, linebacker Mitchell Melton, safety Kourt Williams and running back Miyan Williams.

No players were listed as game-time decisions on the pre-game availability report.


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