Ohio State sophomore defensive lineman Nick Bosa leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss (10), twice as many as any of his teammates. He leads the Buckeyes in sacks (four).
And he’s getting that done of late while playing only a couple of dozen snaps per game. Does he wonder what his statistics would look like in another situation?
“I do,’’ Bosa said.
So do we all.
But Ohio State’s situation is understood by all. It’s a product of Ohio State’s depth at defensive line. And it’s a result of some horrific routs inflicted by the Buckeyes on their opponents, the kind of games where everybody suited up breaks a big-time sweat.
Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said Ohio State’s defensive line, which pondered its place in college football history before this season’s first snap, has hit its stride.
In the opener against Indiana, when the ball got out quickly, it didn’t make much of an impression.
Progressively, though, particularly in Saturday’s 62-14 home victory against Maryland, its performance has bordered on magnificent.
“The line of scrimmage we just dominated,’’ Meyer said after the victory against Maryland. “When you hold them to 16 yards (passing), that’s good secondary play. But I know why they didn’t throw too much. The D-line was all over them.’’
And Bosa was in the middle of that.
On one play Saturday, Maryland opted to triple-team Bosa, a sign of deep respect.
“Our expectation level is very high for him,’’ Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “No. 1, he’s an incredible athlete in his own right. No. 2, his brother was an incredible player (Joey Bosa, the former Ohio State All-American, was a first-round pick of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers).
“We just keep challenging them around here. We just keep trying to make him better.’’
Bosa has always been surrounded by expectations.
His brother had 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in his second Ohio State season.
His father John, who played at Boston College, also was an NFL first-round draft choice.
Bosa had five sacks last season as a freshman, but he wasn’t completely himself. He had rehabilitated from tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in 2015 as a senior at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida.
In the injury’s aftermath, while coping with the usual freshman adjustments, Bosa never felt completely right. But after a solid offseason of work and productivity through Ohio State’s first six games, Bosa has arguably become Ohio State’s Most Valuable Player on defense.
Now the Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) head to Nebraska (3-3, 2-1), where Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley is giving full respect to Bosa.
“The guy comes to play every day,’’ Riley said. “He is hard to play against, but you appreciate that kind of passion.’’
And there’s want-to effort.
Bosa has both.
The last name gets your attention. But his on-field performance has been outstanding. He might wind up with a better season than his brother once registered with the Buckeyes.
It’s difficult to reach expectations, particularly when you come from a family that’s known for excellence.
Bosa already has done that — and so much more.
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