When J.K. Dobbins spoke with reporters early in preseason camp, he said he wanted to become the best running back in the nation.

Through the first two months of his junior season, Dobbins has made a convincing case.

The Ohio State tailback is the nation's fourth-leading rusher, with 947 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

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With Wisconsin visiting the Buckeyes on Saturday, Dobbins could at least aim to make the claim as the best running back in the Big Ten. The matchup will pit Dobbins against Jonathan Taylor, the nation's third-leading rusher and widely seen as the best running back in the conference, if not the nation.

Taylor, who has 10 more rushing yards than Dobbins, has been prolific over his college career with 5,128 rushing yards in less than three full seasons.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Dobbins is likely eager for the chance to prove himself.

“He's competitive,” Day said. “I think he wants to compete against everybody. The fact that he wants to be the best running back in the country, good for him. That's the way he should think about it.”

Dobbins is on pace for a stellar finish, set to surpass the career-best 1,403 rushing yards he totaled as a freshman. He is likely to surpass 1,000 yards against Wisconsin, needing only 53 to get there. It would make him only the second Ohio State player, after Archie Griffin, to total 1,000 yards in three seasons.

After Ohio State’s 52-3 win at Northwestern last week, where he ran for 121 yards and a touchdown, Dobbins said he feels faster this season.

He has had chances to show off his breakaway speed.

In four of the Buckeyes’ seven games, Dobbins has had runs of 50 or more yards, a feat reached in only three games over his first two college seasons.

 

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman