In what is expected to be one of the biggest games of the season for Ohio State, the defense — who is already expected to be tested against Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke — will now be without Jerome Baker and Dante Booker, according to Patrick Murphy of 247Sports.
The Buckeyes are expected to release a statement closer to kick-off about the sudden personnel decision.
Early reports indicate that both may be out with head injuries sustained during the Iowa game:
Jerome Baker's injury, apparently sustained during the Iowa game, worsened during the week. He was scheduled to talk to reporters Wednesday but didn't. Believed to be a head injury. Same with Booker.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) November 11, 2017
Last week’s loss to Iowa spotlighted some of the problem areas for the linebacker corp, which came as a bit of a surprise as Baker has been a leader on the defense in his second-year as a starter. He’s tied for second-most tackles for Ohio State this season and usually makes things difficult for opposing quarterbacks with pass breakups and tight coverage.
With Baker and Booker sitting this one out, Malik Harrison, Tuf Borland and Keandre Jones should see additional snaps, with Chris Worley either keeping his spot or moving over to the outside — where he played 13 games last season.