COLUMBUS, Ohio — Joey Bosa, then just a freshman back in 2013, saw the ball hit the turf and wasn’t going to be denied.
With Ohio State holding a four-point lead, unbeaten Northwestern had one final play to pull off a miracle on its home field back on Oct. 5, 2013. Instead, a lateral didn’t find its target and instead bounced 10 yards back into the end zone.
Bosa won the scramble to recover it, beating out Ohio State cornerback Armani Reeves and Northwestern wide receiver Christian Jones.
It had no effect on the final outcome other than changing the margin of victory and some betting tickets, but it was the launching pad for Bosa’s career. In addition to the touchdown, that was also the game in which he made his first two sacks and he was a terror all night long.
For his efforts, he was named the Ohio State defensive player of the week. He also may have broken the Wildcats, who went from a 4-0 start to a seven-game losing streak that began with that defeat.
Even just six games into Bosa’s career, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew what he was seeing.
“He’s an impact player, and I’ve never had a freshman D-lineman (do that),” he said four days after that game. “Usually at corner or receiver or even a running back can step in and play, but his future is kind of silly around here if he keeps going.”
Three years later, with Ohio State set to face Northwestern for the first time since that 40-30 triumph, there’s another true freshman named Bosa wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines. Incredibly enough, this one is off to an even better start.
Nick, who wears his older brother Joey’s No. 97 jersey, almost immediately worked his way into the rotation despite the fact that defensive end is one of the most talented positions on the team. He has a sack in each of his last two games and in three of his last four.
Bosa Brothers through first seven games
|Joey Bosa (2013)||7||18||2-14||4-18|
|Nick Bosa (2016)||7||17||4-26||6-30|
Nick was the only Buckeye to record a sack against Penn State, and he was also part of the group that blew up the Wisconsin offensive line on the final play of Ohio State’s win against the Badgers. Against Indiana, he made the stop on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line that kept the Buckeyes up by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been ready for (more playing time),” he said after the Indiana win. “It took me a couple games to get my feet under me, and I think I’m getting better every week. I’m ready to go.”
His consistent, steady performance sprinkled with big plays has allowed Ohio State to pair him with a trio of more experienced defensive ends in Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes. The spotlight clearly hasn’t intimidated him, nor has his own youth. He walks, talks and acts like his older brother, and he also plays just as well as him — if not better.
“I love seeing that 97 out there,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said.
Northwestern, having already lived this nightmare once, probably won’t share that enthusiasm on Saturday night.