INDIANAPOLIS — J.K. Dobbins didn’t dodge the question with one of his patented jump-cuts, and he didn’t offer a simple politically correct answer.

In the buildup to Saturday night’s Big Ten championship game, the Ohio State running back, just the fourth OSU freshman to top 1,000 yards rushing, was asked whether college football is easier than he thought it would be when he came north this year from La Grange, Texas.

“Yeah,” Dobbins said, smiling.

Whether Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor feels the same way, he wasn’t available for comment. But it seems remarkable that two true freshmen are the starters at what still ranks as the premier position, after quarterback, for teams competing for the title in what’s considered one of the more physical leagues.

Well, unless you ask Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. It’s like he’d been waiting 13 years to answer that question.

“Adrian Peterson was decent,” Wilson deadpanned.

Wilson was the coordinator of the Oklahoma offense that launched a Peterson to national freshman-record 1,925 yards rushing and 15 TDs in 2004. Peterson finished second to Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart in Heisman Trophy voting.

Taylor has had a similar first season for the Badgers (1,806 yards, 13 TDs), just 119 short of Peterson’s record.

Dobbins, though the starter from game one because of a hamstring problem returning starter Mike Weber dealt with in before the season, has shared time with Weber. Yet Dobbins still had 1,190 yards rushing headed into the game, just 47 short of Maurice Clarett’s freshman record of 1,237 set during Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season.

What helps a freshman running back get into such historic position is, “One, it’s raw talent,” Wilson said, “but is the kid mature enough to handle the protections (in the passing game) and the thought process … so a very mature kid that’s very, very grounded, works hard, has good work habits, but can really visually see and process, has a quick mind, is the guys that play.”

Such a player usually “shows up as young men,” Wilson said.

There is a toughness factor, too, but Dobbins said he already was equipped for that.

“I come from Texas high school football, it’s pretty tough down there,” Dobbins said. “It wasn’t really that much different, the hitting, but I mean, the season is long, the practices are different, too.”

Yet he said he hasn’t hit the proverbial wall. The only thing that surprised him so far, he said, was his involvement.

“I pictured us playing for titles,” Dobbins said. “But I didn’t know I was going to be a big part of it like this.”