COLUMBUS- Although they weren’t on the field at the same time, arguably one of the best match-ups in Saturday’s game was between the two Heisman-caliber running backs, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins.
Which back is better? On Saturday, Dobbins provided a clear answer. Taylor came in with Heisman hype, but it was Dobbins whose run game made a statement and an impact.
“J.K. ran with a chip on his shoulder,” head coach Ryan Day said. “Jonathan Taylor is a wonderful back but he felt like he wanted to be the best running back in the game today. It had a lot to do with the way he ran and how he ran but it also had to do with the offensive line.”
Dobbins was able to crack Wisconsin’s No. 1 rush defense and make his case for the Heisman Trophy race. He finished the game with 163 yards on 20 attempts, averaging a whopping 8.2 yards per carry. He also recorded two of Ohio State’s four touchdowns.
With his 163-yard performance, Dobbins achieved what no other Buckeye has been able to do before, rushing for over 1,000 yards in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. He also passed Tim Spencer for fourth on the Ohio State career rushing list and now has 3,566 career yards on the ground.
Taylor, on the other hand, was held to a season-low 52 yards on 20 attempts, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry.
“We were messing with J.K. the whole week talking about the best Big Ten running back is coming at The Shoe,” Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields said. “So, J.K. is a great running back, of course, and I thought he played very well today in the passing game and running game also. He was a big help into winning this game.”
Dobbins was critical in getting the Ohio State offense going on the ground in the second half. He also helped get things moving in the passing game in the second quarter when the Buckeye offense was struggling. At one point in the first half of the game, Fields had only two completed passes and they were both catches by Dobbins. He finished the game with three receptions for 58 yards.
Dobbins’ dominance was evident in every drive for the Buckeyes, but Taylor was only able to find success a few times. Taylor and the rest of the Badger offense were unable to get things moving against the Buckeye defense. Wisconsin was held to just 83 yards on the ground while Ohio State totaled 264 in this category. The last time Wisconsin was held under 100 yards was when they faced Ohio State in 2017.
In the third quarter, Dobbins gained 43 yards in two carries for a touchdown. With just over six minutes left in that quarter, he had 16 carries for 129 yards and one touchdown averaging 8.1 yards per carry. At that same point in time, Taylor had 14 attempts for just 29 yards, 0 touchdowns and was averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
“J.K. ran with an edge all day,” Day said following the game. “I think he’s the best running back in the country.”
Facing the No. 1 rushing defense in the country and rushing for 100+ yards was not new to Dobbins. Once again, he was able to break Wisconsin’s success against the run. His 163 rushing yards against Wisconsin on Saturday were the most Wisconsin has allowed to an opposing player since Dobbins ran for 174 in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game.
While it was clear that Dobbins won this battle, their fight for the Heisman Trophy still continues. The two shared a few words on the field after the game.
Taylor and Dobbins. pic.twitter.com/NHkrZ2XTBK
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) October 26, 2019