ANN ARBOR, MI — It has always been said in The Game that the team that runs the ball the best will win the game.
On Saturday against rival Michigan, Ohio State junior running back J.K. Dobbins led the Buckeye offense on the ground and had a career day.
Every player has record-setting days and they strive to break their own previous accomplishments, but not everybody gets to achieve that against their rival.
“He had a little different look in his eye today,” head coach Ryan Day said. “I know he was sick to his stomach about the fumble last week and he wore that on his sleeve all week and was able to practice well. But he just had a look in his eye today that he was not going to be denied.”
Dobbins finished the game with 31 carries, a career-high 211 yards, and a career-high four touchdowns. He also added two catches for 49 yards and he outran Michigan, who as a team rushed for 91 yards against the Buckeyes.
Between the past two weeks Dobbins has had a total of 67 carries, which is more than he has had in any two-game stretch this season. But Saturday’s 31 carries was exactly the workload he needed against Michigan.
The Michigan rush defense was good for fifth in the Big Ten, 13th in the country, and gave up an average of 105.91 yards per game before facing Ohio State.
In the first half, Dobbins had 17 carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns. The last player with that many rushing touchdowns in the first half against Michigan was Vince Young in the 2005 Rose Bowl.
It was clear that the Wolverines rush defense was struggling to limit Dobbins and he and the Buckeye coaching staff knew how to take advantage of that.
At one point, a Michigan defender even attempted to untie his cleat and rip it off of his foot.
But as any good running back does, Dobbins gave the credit for his performance to his offensive line and he looks forward to seeing how he can improve.
“Having that performance, it was great, you know in a big rivalry game,” Dobbins said. “But without my O-line I couldn’t do it. I just want to keep going and get better because I could have had a better game.”
With his performance against Michigan, Dobbins passed Ezekiel Elliott for the No. 2 spot on the all-time rushing list at Ohio State behind Archie Griffin. He also now has over 4,000 career yards and is the only player other than Archie Griffin to achieve that career milestone. In the game on Saturday, he also had three runs over 30 yards and moved up into seventh-place on Ohio State’s career touchdowns scored list.
But Dobbins still wasn’t pleased with his 200+ yard day. Though he picked up his own fumble that bounced on the ground and was able to keep running, Dobbins knows that the fumble was a good reminder that he can improve.
“I’m not satisfied. I’m not even close to being satisfied,” Dobbins said after the game. “I just feel like there’s so much more I can prove, you know, my God given talents. I feel like a lot of people are overlooking it.”