The game could mark the first action of the season for the ballyhooed Ray Small, who has been nursing an ankle injury since fall camp.
"He's come along really well," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said Thursday evening. "I'm not sure that he's ready to play a full game. If he plays, I would say that it would be sparingly but he's getting very close.
"If he plays, it will be at the right time doing the right things. He's further along than we thought he might be at this point."
A final decision on Small will be made during the final 48 hours leading up to kickoff, Tressel said. Part of what will determine if Small is ready to go is whether or not the coaching staff feels he is mentally ready to go.
Should he see playing time, it will only come at the wide receiver spot and not in the team's return game because he has not had enough work with the special teams units yet.
"He's anxious to get back," Tressel said. "If anything, the pressure he feels is he wants to help his team and he wants to regain some of his opportunity to play because the guys who are playing aren't doing bad."
With Small, Albert Dukes and Devon Lyons all battling injuries throughout fall camp, freshmen Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington have both ascended the depth chart. Both caught touchdown passes against YSU.
While Tressel said both Dukes and Lyons both had better weeks and appear to be healthier, he praised the work of another true freshman who endured a position change during fall camp and still recorded his first career catch as a wideout.
"They've done a good job," Tressel said of Sanzenbacher and Washington. "The guy who keeps coming along every day is Devon Torrence. He missed some of the foundational work at receiver. The more he knows, the better he looks."
In addition to Small, Tressel said the Buckeyes will continue to be without the services of a few players. Kicker Aaron Pettrey will not play as he continues to rehabilitate a groin injury, while offensive lineman Jon Skinner is still "pretty far away," Tressel said. The same sentiment goes for defensive back Andre Amos, a player whom Tressel said could be back "late in the year at best."
Freshman defensive lineman Solomon Thomas has resumed practicing with the team after standing on the sidelines wearing windpants during OSU's season-opening victory over Youngstown State but probably will not play. Tressel said no new players were injured this week during practice.
The Buckeyes are also closer to getting freshman linebacker Jermale Hines back on the roster. He did not dress for the YSU game as he was going through what Tressel described as an "appeal situation."
Tressel said they do not have any clarification on Hines, but they are getting closer.
Against the Penguins, the Buckeyes primarily lined up junior Todd Boeckman at quarterback but still gave snaps to Robby Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton. Tressel said that will likely remain this same this week as long as the situation allows them to substitute.
"Somewhere in those first three or four series, we would like to do some rotating," he said. "I would say that Todd took about 65 percent of the snaps this week, Rob took about 25 percent and Antonio took about 10 percent of the snaps. That's where we are right now."
With junior defensive end Lawrence Wilson out for six to eight weeks with a broken leg, sophomore Robert Rose will get his first career start. True freshman Cameron Heyward will spell Rose, but junior Alex Barrow will also see his reps increase.
"The outcome of losing Lawrence, the person who will gain some repetitions probably game-wise would be Alex," he said.