One day prior to the annual showdown with Michigan, Ohio State had an unwelcome Black Friday surprise for its fans.
The school’s weekly status report lists cornerback Shaun Wade as a game-time decision with an unidentified injury.
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A third-year sophomore, Wade has proven to be one of Ohio State’s most important players in a revamped defense that has gone from one of the worst in school history last season to one of the best in the nation this year.
Although he is listed as a corner, Wade is essentially the strong safety for the Buckeyes and lines up on the second level most of the time.
His ability to cover receivers, stop the run and blitz from the slot has given the coaching staff multiple options for attacking opposing offenses.
His absence would be magnified against a Michigan team that has one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation.
Wade’s backup is Amir Riep, a junior safety from Cincinnati Colerain who has been one of the team’s top special teams players since arriving in Columbus.
On the bright side, the absence of Justin Fields from the injury report allows fans to exhale.
Fields, a sophomore who is third in the nation in points responsible for (258) and fourth in passing efficiency, had an injury scare near the end of Ohio State’s win over Penn State last Saturday.
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He went down hard on a sack and remained on the turf for a few minutes before leaving under his own power.
Asked about Fields on Saturday, coach Ryan Day said Tuesday, “We expect him to be fine,” but did not elaborate.
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