Try and picture the conversation. It’s late August and your friend is confident that a true freshman OSU running back is going to have more rushing yards than Mike Weber midway through the season. (Riiight.) But they’re just getting started. Next, your friend plays the trump card — they are confident that this freshman will actually have more yards on the ground than the great Saquon Barkley at Penn State. (More than Saquon Barkley? Good luck with your life, you’ll get far with this kind of creative thinking.)
What’s that you say? J.K. Dobbins has actually done just that through seven games? Huh. A lot can change from August to October.
Seasons always play out in unexpected ways. And sometimes the most interesting stories are buried in the statistics. Seven games in gives us a good sample size to reflect on notable and surprising trends that have emerged so far for the Buckeyes. Let’s take a look at some those nuggets buried in the numbers.
J.K. Dobbins is the second leading rusher in the Big Ten: Dobbins only trails Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor in rushing yards in the Big Ten. Taylor has 986 yards, 10 touchdowns, and is averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Dobbins has 775 yards, 5 touchdowns also on 7.8 yards per rush. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy frontrunner Saquon Barkley sits at No. 3 in the B1G with 649 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per rush and 6 rushing touchdowns.
The Buckeyes are on pace to be flagged for more penalties than any previous OSU team under Urban Meyer: The Buckeyes are at the wrong end of the national rankings in the fewest penalties category. OSU has has already been flagged for 52 penalties — 116th worst in the nation. Seven games into the season, Ohio State is averaging 7.4 penalties per game, and 74.4 penalty yards. The most OSU has previously been penalized under Urban Meyer was during the 2012 season. In 2012, the Buckeyes were called for 7 penalties a game and 64.5 penalty yards per contest.
J.T. Barrett leads the nation in passing touchdowns: Barrett’s 21 passing touchdowns is tied with West Virginia’s Will Grier for tops in the country.
Ohio State has given up zero yards on punt returns: First reported on Cleveland.com, Ohio State has punted 20 times and still not allowed a single punt return yard. OSU punter Drue Chrisman is averaging 42.6 yards on his punts, and the Buckeyes rank 16th best in the country in net punting.
No one is scoring more points in the country than J.T. Barrett: Barrett leads the nation in points responsible for with 158 points scored this season (21 passing TDs, 5 rushing TDs and one two point conversion). Louisville’s Lamar Jackson sits at No. 2 nationally, responsible for 156 points.
Since 2014, no Ohio State receiver has ranked in the top 50 nationally in receiving yards to end the season. That trend continues. While the Buckeyes are scoring passing touchdowns galore, it’s been from a lot of smaller contributions rather than a single standout playmaker. No OSU receiver ranks in the top 75 in the country in terms of receiving yards. Parris Campbell leads the Buckeyes with 405 yards receiving — 77th best in the nation. Johnnie Dixon’s 276 yards and K.J. Hill’s 274 yards rank 188th and 189th in the nation, respectively. Devin Smith was the last OSU receiver to finish the season ranked in the top 50 nationally in receiving yards, racking up 931 yards in 2014.
The offense is keeping the chains moving better than any team in the country: The Buckeyes have registered a best-in-the-nation 209 first downs on the season (100 rushing, 94 passing, and 15 on penalties). OSU has 15 more first downs than Louisville, which ranks No. 2 nationally.