Dobbins leaves first game, Bearcats in his wake

Joey Kaufman
J.K. Dobbins breaks off a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give Ohio State a 21-0 lead over Cincinnati. It was Dobbins' second scoring run of the day. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

Running back J.K. Dobbins wasn’t in a good mood in the days leading up to Ohio State’s 42-0 rout of Cincinnati on Saturday.

“I think J.K. was irritated all week,” coach Ryan Day said.

Dobbins thought his performance in the Buckeyes' opener was pedestrian. He didn't total 100 rushing yards. He finished with 4.3 yards per carry, a mark that was less than his average last season.

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His second outing was better.

Dobbins looked in vintage form, running for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

“He was very explosive,” right guard Wyatt Davis said. “Just blocking for him was fun, because you know that even if you get the smallest crease, he can pop out and make something crazy happen.”

Dobbins broke off some of his biggest runs in the second quarter. On the second play of one drive, he ran for 24 yards to put the Buckeyes near midfield.

But his biggest burst came a few minutes later when Dobbins dashed through a hole along the left side of the offensive line and outran a safety for a 60-yard touchdown. He crossed the goal line untouched. When teammates joined him in the end zone to celebrate, left tackle Thayer Munford lifted him into the air.

Day admired how Dobbins never slowed down. The safety from Cincinnati had pulled about even with Dobbins at the 26-yard line, but Dobbins kept striding down the sideline.

“When he got to the second level, he was rolling,” Day said.

It marked the second-longest rush of Dobbins' career, behind a 77-yard run against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game in 2017.

“I was so happy for him,” center Josh Myers said. “That's something our offensive line really wanted to get done for him. We love J.K., and we wanted him to have a huge game. We're all super stoked.”

The performance came against a formidable defense.

During the Labor Day weekend, only 21 of the 130 FBS teams allowed fewer rushing yards than Cincinnati, which gave up just 62 to UCLA.

It got the attention of the Buckeyes.

“This week, we really prepared hard for what they were going to bring up front,” Davis said, “because we knew that they stem their front line, they move guys around pre-snap, they run a lot of blitzes and pressures. So we were working hard all week trying to pick it up, and I felt that translated on the field.”

As a team, the Buckeyes totaled 270 rushing yards.

For his part, Dobbins felt better about his bounce-back game, but he was only so thrilled with his production.

“I’m OK with it,” he said.


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