"The beds are full," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said Thursday morning.
In his final press conference before the Buckeyes host Wisconsin (3:30, ABC), Tressel said the flu has continued to knock players out the lineup this week. Four players missed Wednesday's practice, and their returns in time for the game are questionable.
Junior left tackle Andy Miller will miss his second consecutive game with the flu, and Tressel said the Buckeyes are hoping he will be back in practice Tuesday. Also missing Wednesday were starting left guard Justin Boren, starting tight end Jake Ballard and reserve safety Nate Oliver.
Tressel said Miller does not have the H1N1 virus.
For Ballard, it represents a relapse of sorts. After starting to feel sick prior to the team's Oct. 3 game against Indiana, the senior missed the second half of the game after getting sick in the locker room at halftime. He caught one pass for 10 yards in the contest.
Arguably the biggest loss would be Boren, who has been a key contributor on the left side of the offensive line. Should he not be able to answer the bell Saturday, fifth-year senior and former walk-on Andrew Moses would be tapped as Boren's replacement.
On Tuesday, Tressel had mentioned sophomore left tackle Mike Adams as having come down with the flu. With him and Miller sidelined, sophomore J.B. Shugarts had rotated from right to left tackle and true freshman Marcus Hall was taking first-team reps at right tackle.
After practice, Ballard said Adams was injured and not sick. Players with the flu have been kept out of practice so as not to infect their teammates, but Adams was on hand watching.
Thursday, Tressel clarified the situation.
"That was a false alarm," he said. "Someone thought that they had heard (he was sick)."
Helping the Buckeyes this weekend is the fact that they play a home game against the Badgers. When OSU played Toledo on Sept. 19 in Cleveland, senior punter Jon Thoma was not allowed to make the trip because he had the flu. The same went for Miller last weekend when the Buckeyes went to Indiana.
Now playing at home, the Buckeyes can hold out longer before making some decisions on who can play and who can not.
"(It impacts) who you're taking and how you travel with them," Tressel said. "Florida the other week had a bunch of guys down and they took five or six kids on a separate plane. It's nice that you can hopefully keep the guys rested and keep them home and sleep in on Friday (night) and try to get as healthy as they can."
One bright spot has been the recovery of senior Jim Cordle, who started the first two games of the season at right tackle before suffering an ankle injury.
"He practiced yesterday, which frankly surprised me," Tressel said. "I don't think we would put him in the game, but he may be back a week earlier than we thought, which would be tremendous for us."
Sophomore running back Dan Herron missed the Indiana game with an ankle injury, but he figures to play this weekend.
"He's not 100 percent, but he's up there," Tressel said. "He looked good yesterday."
The running back corps could get an extra boost in the form of freshman Jaamal Berry, who has been sidelined to this point with a hamstring injury. Whether he sees his first action of the season this weekend will largely be determined by how much of Thursday's practice he can take.
"Two days in practice this week he looked good," Tressel said. "Now, maybe his legs were fresh and all that compared (to the others), but he had a little bit of a setback yesterday and re-aggravated it a little bit. We'll see how it is today.
"If he were looking like he did in practice, you would certainly consider playing him in the right circumstances."
In addition, freshman Jonathan Newsome injured his knee against Indiana. Tressel said Newsome might be a candidate for a redshirt because his injury occurred within the first six games of the season and did not sound optimistic that he will return this year.
It appears that who will suit up for the Buckeyes this weekend will not be entirely known until the final hours before kickoff.
"As we mentioned (to the players) yesterday, the game is 3:30 on Saturday," Tressel said. "Better be ready."