When it comes to the best running backs in the nation, we quickly go to names like Jonathan Taylor, Travis Etienne, and D’Andre Swift. However, at this point in the season, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins may be playing better than all of them.
After a disappointing sophomore campaign by his own standards, Dobbins has been a force in 2019 and is currently fourth in the nation in rushing yards with 947. To put that in perspective, he had 1,053 all last season, and this current total has been accomplished in half the amount of games, an usually playing pretty sparingly in the second half. He is also fourth in yards per game and ninth in yards per carry at 7.1.
Dobbins had another great performance against Northwestern putting up 151 total yards and two touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 52-3 rout. Now with a big matchup this coming weekend against Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense, Dobbins could be in a position to elevate his name even further into the national conversation.
With Justin Fields as his teammate, it is hard to see Dobbins getting much serious traction in the Heisman race, but when it comes to the Doak Walker Award, he should be a very serious contender.
Earlier this month, ESPN released their early favorites for the running back honor and Dobbins was mention along with Taylor and Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard. Bleacher Report also released its rankings of the top running back of 2019 and Dobbins was third behind Hubbard and Taylor.
So he is in the mix, but what is it going to take to be recognized as the top guy when award season rolls around?
Winning this head-to-head match up against Taylor this week is going to be a good start. They obviously aren’t going against each other on the field, but with both defenses being elite, if Dobbins outperforms Taylor, then that should be a wake-up call to the national audience. Taylor has the notoriety, but when you watch each of these two play, there is no doubt that Dobbins has played just as good if not better in 2019.
Now, when it comes to Hubbard, it could be a case of numbers just being too hard to ignore. He currently leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,265 which is almost 300 yards more than Boston College’s AJ Dillon who is second.
Hubbard is a fantastic player in a conference that doesn’t really have the defensive talent to slow him down, so he is most likely going to eclipse 2,000 yards if he stays at this current pace.
If Dobbins maintains his pace of 1,600 yards for a national title-contending team against tougher competition, but Hubbard has over 2,100 yards for a solid team, who will get the nods?
The past few winners of the award have proven that a team’s record doesn’t necessarily need to be great, so this is certainly a debatable question.
All Dobbins can do is continue to play at the high-level that he has been, but eventually, it will take even more people outside of Buckeye Nation to realize just how tremendous he’s been.
We will continue to look at all the Buckeyes players who could be in line for individual awards, so here are some guys to keep in mind:
- Heisman: Justin Fields
- Davey O’Brien Award: Justin Fields
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy: Chase Young
- Chuck Bednarik Award: Chase Young
- Jim Thorpe Award: Jeff Okudah