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J.K. Dobbins again makes claim as nation’s best tailback

J.K. Dobbins-Ohio State-Ohio State buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins made another claim as the nation's best running back. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

J.K. Dobbins again makes claim as nation’s best tailback

Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.

Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every Sunday morning for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.


EVANSTON, Ill. — Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins didn’t realize the milestone he achieved.

After the Buckeyes 52-3 win over Northwestern on Friday night at Ryan Field, Dobbins was asked how he felt about moving into the top five on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list.

“It’s a blessing for sure,” Dobbins said. “I didn’t know during the game that I moved into the top five, but it’s really a blessing. My goal is to pass one of the people that made me come to Ohio State, and that’s Ezekiel Elliott.”

Passing Elliott isn’t far out of the question. If Dobbins continues his current pace this season, he’ll likely pass Elliott and move into second place on the all-time rushing list at Ohio State.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day knows how good Dobbins is, and this is the running back he expected.

“It is,” Day said. “I know he has even more to give, but it is. It’s what we talked about all preseason, the way he’s been practicing since August. He’s been running hard. He’s worked hard at his body. He’s done a great job with Tony Alford. He prepared for these games.

“When you practice that way, you start to play that way.”

Dobbins continues to be a top-five running back in the country — both statistically and to the eye. And he doesn’t seem to be slowing down for Ohio State. The true test for Dobbins will come next week against Wisconsin, one of the country’s best defenses. It’s also a game that will pit Dobbins against Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, another top back in the country.

But for now, Dobbins will take his 6.7 yards per carry, 121 yards and two total touchdowns from the blowout over Northwestern. Oh, and a huge win on the road.

As always, Lettermen Row has some Buckeye Leaves to hand out for Ohio State and another dominant win, and the Dobbins performance certainly earned him one.

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J.K. Dobbins caught a touchdown pass from Justin Fields in the Ohio State win over Northwestern. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Offense

RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins didn’t get off to a dream start for the Buckeyes. But eventually the dam broke, and Dobbins broke free for one of his signature long runs. Dobbins showed his do-it-all ability in pass protection and in the receiving game when he caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields in the second quarter. He has become a complete back and has taken over games little-by-little before hitting big plays. That’s his style at this point in his career. As long as Dobbins continues to run and make plays the way he has been, the Buckeyes offense will continue to hum.

Malik Harrison-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison has been stout for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Defense

LB Malik Harrison

Malik Harrison had as quiet of a game as somebody with nine tackles could have for Ohio State. But that’s the mark of a good player: A guy who makes plays quietly and stuffs the stat sheet without going noticed. He finished with nine tackles, half of a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. Harrison is the best linebacker on the team for Ohio State, and Friday night was just another example of the leader of the defensive front making play after play. As the Buckeyes head into the massive showdown against Wisconsin, Harrison will be needed even more than he was in the win over Northwestern.

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Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil made a 55-yard field goal against Nortwestern. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Special teams

K Blake Haubeil

Blake Haubeil has missed a couple kicks he should have made this season for Ohio State, but those misses became moot at the end of the first half against Northwestern. Haubeil knocked in a 55-yard field goal to end the half, which is tied for the second-longest kick in Ohio State program history. The kick didn’t decide the game; it actually just widened Ohio State’s already insurmountable lead. But Haubeil proved he can hit a long kick if or when the Buckeyes need one.

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.