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Buckeye Bits: Tommy Togiai’s crucial role on the defensive line, Duane Washington Jr.’s offseason growth, more

All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 FAU at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Friday, Buckeye Nation. We only have to suffer through two more weekends of Ohio State-less college football before we get to see the Buckeyes take the field on Oct. 24. The season is rapidly approaching, and we here at Land-Grant Holy Land are just as excited as you are.

Before we jump right into today’s headlines, we of course have to run through our Bits Bets segment for this Saturday. Last week was a tough one, I'm not gonna lie to you. After going 2-0 in the afternoon games, we went an awful 0-3 in prime time (that’s what I get for believing in Auburn and Mississippi State), which brings our overall record on the year to 9-7. While we’re still positive in 2020, that mark simply isn’t going to cut it, and so we’ll have to be better this week.

Here are some of my favorite plays for this weekend (10/10):

  • Syracuse (+1) vs. Duke
  • Boston College vs. Pittsburgh (under 43)
  • No. 3 Georgia (-12.5) vs. No. 14 Tennessee
  • No. 1 Clemson (-14) vs. No. 7 Miami
  • No. 5 Notre Dame (-20.5) vs. Florida State

Tough slate this weekend, and there is a lot of bad weather expected to roll through the South with Hurricane Delta in town that may muddy some things up, but we’ll look to bounce back regardless. With that out of the way, let’s get to the headlines.

From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

The top five college football teams in the AP Poll are all in action on Saturday
(Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL)

If you want some more insightful gambling stuff from someone who has done far better research than I, head on over to today’s edition of Money, Cash & Joes. Brett went 5-2 last week, and he’s got breakdowns and picks for all of Saturday’s biggest matchups.

Hancock opts back in, Hicks invited to All-American Bowl
(Caleb Houser, LGHL)

A little bit of recruiting news for you to get yourself up to date on what Ohio State commits have been up to. Jordan Hancock, a 2021 OSU commit, is opting back in to his senior season at North Gwinnett, while C.J. Hicks, a 2022 commit, has earned an invitation to the All-American Bowl.

Ohio State 2020 Virtual Season Preview: Michigan Week!
(George Eisner, LGHL)

As the real Ohio State season approaches, our virtual Ohio State season is winding to a close. It has been a fun ride to watch the Buckeyes beat up on their opponents each week, and the last game of the regular season is of course against TTUN. Join us on Twitch on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. ET as OSU looks to stay undefeated.

From around the gridiron...

Ohio State’s defense looks to limit big plays in 2020
(Chris Lauderback, Eleven Warriors)

After an absolutely horrendous defense in 2018 (thank you, Bill Davis, Alex Grinch and Greg Schiano), the Buckeyes bounced back in a tremendous way in 2019. Ranking 95th in the country in 20+ yard plays allowed (67) and 118th in 30+ yard plays allowed (39) in 2018, they allowed only 44 plays of 20+ yards (12th) and 16 plays of 30+ yards (5th) in 2019.

Now, with Kerry Coombs back in the fold, and in the absence of Chase Young/Jeff Okudah/Damon Arnette/Jordan Fuller, they will have to find a way to mirror their defensive efforts from last season.

Not all that much has changed from the spring in terms of Ohio State’s depth chart. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are still going to be out there catching passes from Justin Fields, and the offensive line is going to play out exactly as everyone thought it would. We have, however, learned a little bit more in terms of how the Buckeyes will roll out their running backs, as well as their back seven on defense. Dan takes a stab at how the depth chart will shake out as a whole in two weeks.

Tommy Togiai is known as a big man, now wants to be a big-play maker
(Nathan Baird,

Defensive tackle is one of the few positions on the depth chart where Ohio State is a bit thin. They lost a ton of talent from last season, with Jashon Cornell, DaVon Hamilton and Robert Landers all gone to the NFL Draft or graduation. On top of that, Haskell Garrett is still recovering from being shot in the face this offseason, and Taron Vincent is still rehabbing the injury that forced him to miss all of 2019.

Tommy Togiai has been expected by many to be the lead guy among the defensive tackles this season, and his importance becomes even greater with so many question marks around him.

Recruiting isn’t always as simple as a kid choosing where he wants to play football for the next four years straight out of high school. There are many twists and turns in the road, and you don't always end up in the place you began. That is true of both Antwuan Jackson and Trey Sermon, who committed elsewhere despite building relationships with Ohio State’s coaching staff in the recruiting process, but ended up playing for the Buckeyes in the end anyway.

Now healthy, Tyreke Smith working to become an impact player
(Steve Helwagen, Bucknuts)

Ohio State will be looking for the next great defensive end to step up in the absence of Chase Young. While everyone expects Zach Harrison to be the guy, don't sleep on Tyreke Smith. Missing three games in 2019, the sophomore registered five tackles for loss and three sacks as part of a crowded rotation. Smith has been banged up with injuries in his first two years in Columbus, but he is now fully healthy and ready to show the world what he is capable of.

These are always fun. It’s great to hear these guys in their element.

From around the hardwood...

Summer of Introspection: Duane Washington Jr. believes he turned a corner
(Colin Hass-Hill, Eleven Warriors)

With Kaleb Wesson off to the NBA Draft, Ohio State hoops is going to need Duane Washington Jr. to really step up his game in 2020. He was the team’s second-leading scorer a year ago, but as he would be quick to tell you himself, there were times where his decision-making as a sophomore was not at the level Chris Holtmann would want it to be. Spending the offseason working with his father and watching film of both himself and NBA players, Washington feels he can take it to the next level this season.

In case you forgot that Chris Holtmann is a phenomenal coach and overall great person, he and the guys took part in some team-building this week with a little players vs. coaches dodgeball. You can check it out on Holtmann’s personal Instagram account:

View this post on Instagram

Players 4 - Coaches 3

A post shared by Chris Holtmann (@coachholtmann) on

From everywhere else...

We saw it first in baseball, and now both the NFL and the college football world have caught on. While the Big Ten won’t be allowing fans in the stands this season — at least for the time being — there is still a way you could see your face in the crowd. Ohio State is now selling fan cutouts to be placed around Ohio Stadium for the team’s four home games this year.

In case you thought this pandemic was over: it’s not. Wear your masks, people.

To end things on a more upbeat note, Delonte West appears to be doing well after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban personally picked up the ex-NBA star at a gas station last week and vowed to get him off the streets. Not everyone is a huge fan of Cuban, but everyone can admit that this is a great feel-good story.

Enjoy your weekend everybody, and stay safe!