Football Dobbins tops college debut in return to Indiana

Ohio State junior running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball down the field during the first half of the game against Indiana at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14. Ohio State won 51-10. Credit: Amal Saeed | Photo EditorOn Ohio State’s second drive against Indiana Saturday, J.K. Dobbins dropped a wide-open touchdown pass from Justin Fields with no defender within five yards of him.You probably forgot about that, though, if you saw the rest of his performance.The junior running back set a new career record in total yardage, with 207 in Bloomington, Indiana, and he’d need little more than a half of football to do it.“He’s proven it,” head coach Ryan Day said. “He’s proven he can be the bell cow. Coming off of last year, kind of splitting carries with Mike [Weber] he wanted to prove he can be that bell cow.”It was two seasons ago in the same stadium that Dobbins first set his previous high mark of 205 total yards, 181 on the ground, in his first collegiate game.In his first return and likely last game at Indiana, Dobbins had an encore.Running through Hoosier defenders and referees alike, Dobbins refused to go down on carry-after-carry in a first half where he chewed up 175 yards on the ground and another 10 through the air.He’d finish with 193 rushing yards on 22 carries, and didn’t play after the first series of the second half.Head coach Ryan Day said all offseason that Dobbins needed to finish runs with his pads down, rather than looking to hit a home run on every play.On Saturday, the Texas native did both.His first trip to the end zone was a rumbling 26-yarder on a shotgun handoff, featuring six broken tackles as Dobbins dispatched of defenders with stiff-arms and side-steps, dragging two Hoosiers across the goal line.“I think it’s just a play that shows what I can really do,” Dobbins said. “I think a lot of people forgot what I can do, so I just want to keep showing that, keep getting better.”Before that, Dobbins nearly bested his 60-yard score against Cincinnati with a 56-yard rush that would’ve been an 80-yard touchdown if not for one final Indiana defender.With 10 seconds winding down in the second quarter, the Buckeyes could’ve taken a knee to head into the half up 30-10. Instead, Fields handed the ball to Dobbins, who blasted through an official before knifing into two Indiana defenders.Despite 20 first half carries and a comfortable lead, Dobbins was not finished.Two rushes for 18 yards on the opening drive of the second half set Dobbins up to atone for his lone mistake of the game, as he’d catch a 4-yard touchdown pass from Fields in nearly the exact spot he’d dropped it earlier.Dobbins wouldn’t return, despite being 11 yards from setting a new career high in rushing yards, another record that he said he had his sights set on.“I did want it, but in the end there’s a bigger plan,” Dobbins said. “We got a lot of big games down the road.”It was a record-setting day nonetheless for Dobbins in his return to the place where his Buckeye career began, but Day said it’s only the beginning.“It was a great start for him,” Day said.