- College football reporter.
- Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
- Graduate of Northwestern University.
Ohio State will be without leading wide receiver Chris Olave, starting linebacker Baron Browning and others for Saturday’s Big Ten championship against No. 14 Northwestern.
Olave and Browning are among 22 players Ohio State listed as out for the title game. Starting safety Marcus Hooker is listed as a game-time decision. Ohio State does not specify the reasons why players miss games, although sources told ESPN that the team had additional positive COVID-19 tests this week among players and possibly staff.
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes played without 23 players Dec. 5 at Michigan State, their most recent game. Several starters who sat out against Michigan State — linebacker Tuf Borland and offensive linemen Josh Myers, Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere — are not listed on Saturday’s status report and are expected to play against Northwestern.
Starting punter Drue Chrisman is among those out for the championship game, alongside reserve wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, reserve running back Steele Chambers, reserve quarterback Gunnar Hoak and others.
Chrisman tweeted that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Big Ten policy requires any players who test positive for COVID-19 to miss a minimum of 21 days before returning to game action.
Olave leads Ohio State with 36 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns. Browning ranks second on the team with 23 tackles to go along with a forced fumble and two pass breakups. Chrisman averages 45.2 yards per punt with eight placed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline and linebackers coach Al Washington also are both not coaching for Ohio State on Saturday.
Both teams cleared Big Ten COVID-19 testing on Friday night after arriving in Indianapolis, and Northwestern continued to have no positive cases, according to a source. Northwestern has reported no positive tests among players or coaches all season.
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