- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Counting down the five most impressive statistical performances so far this season for Ohio State as it heads into a bye week before trying to close out a perfect season against Wisconsin and Michigan.
No. 3: John Simon
When: Oct. 6 against Nebraska
What: After a relatively quiet five weeks to open the season, thanks in part to nagging injuries the two-time captain didn't want to talk about publicly, Simon exploded against Nebraska and almost single-handedly altered its game plan with his frequent appearances in the backfield. The senior came into the game with just 2.5 tackles for a loss, but he doubled that with 5 takedowns behind the line of scrimmage against the Huskers -- including two sacks and a forced fumble for good measure.
Impact: As the Buckeyes were prone to do during the first half of the season, they still gave up a handful of big plays and didn't exactly shut down Nebraska's high-powered rushing game. But Simon helped provide timely stops, and when the Huskers tried to throw, he battered and pestered quarterback Taylor Martinez consistently as Ohio State racked up four sacks and helped force three bad passes that were intercepted.
How: The famously driven defensive lineman refused to let his health become a potential excuse for his slow statistical start, so he simply stopped talking about it. But it was clear by the time the Huskers came to Ohio Stadium that he was beginning to regain his strength, and they had no answer for him up front. Simon hasn't had another game quite as prolific since then, but he's been just as difficult to slow down as a pass-rushing threat and is making life difficult for opposing offenses even without putting up more crazy individual numbers.
For the season: 39 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 passes defended, 2 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble
He said it: “I felt pretty good that day. Why are you guys so, like, excited to keep asking me about [injuries]? It goes both ways, but I do feel good. I’m getting better every week. ... I mean, it’s part of the game, and we get excited for the games and it kind of takes the pain away.” -- Simon
2dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy