Ohio State right guard Branden Bowen, right, will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
COLUMBUS — Ohio State oversaw a position battle at right guard up until the first week of the season, and the derby is back on after six games because of injury.
The Buckeyes lost Branden Bowen, who won the starting job during training camp, to injury in last week’s victory against Maryland. After the game, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Bowen sustained a broken leg.
Bowen then underwent surgery Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season.
According to Meyer, the Buckeyes still are undecided on who should replace Bowen as the team’s starter at right guard. Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference that position was wide open as No. 9 Ohio State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) prepares to travel to Nebraska (3-3, 2-1) this weekend.
On the depth chart Ohio State released for this week, sophomore Matthew Burrell and junior Demetrius Knox are listed as the co-starters at right guard.
Meyer said redshirt junior Malcolm Pridgeon also is vying for the open position.
In the Maryland game, Burrell entered the game in relief of Bowen. After the game, Meyer said Burrell played “OK.”
Further, Ohio State has another option in fifth-year senior Billy Price, who was a first-team All-American at the spot in 2016. After former center Pat Elflein graduated, Price shifted to center for this year.
If the Buckeyes choose to move Price back to guard, junior Brady Taylor is the next center available.
But if Ohio State opts to keep Price at center, the rest of the contenders at the position are short on starting experience. Burrell has appeared in every game this season, Pridgeon in five of six, and Knox in four — but the trio does not have one start between them.
Whomever OSU chooses, Price said after the Maryland game that OSU would be fine.
“We’re losing one of the key cogs of the offensive line, but we’re going to bounce back,” Price told reporters. “We’ll be fine. We’re going to put the work in this week.”
A redshirt sophomore from Utah, Bowen had been effective in his first season starting at Ohio State before breaking his tibia and fibula.
Bowen tweeted Sunday that surgery went well, and he thanked Ohio State fans for their well wishes after the injury.
“Awake and well. Surgery was good,” he wrote. “Buckeyenation [sic] your support is unreal! The Best Damn Fans in The Land ! I appreciate you all! Go Bucks!”
At the halfway point of the season, Ohio State is ranked first in the Big Ten and fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring offense. The Buckeyes are averaging 45.8 points and have scored at least 54 points in three consecutive games.
Ohio State has been heavy favorites during its four-game winning streak, in which it has won every game by at least 31 points. The Buckeyes are a 24-point favorite at Memorial Stadium against the struggling Cornhuskers, then will be off next week.