After losing running back J.K. Dobbins to the NFL after last season, many questioned whether the Ohio State running game would be able to duplicate the same kind of success they had in 2019.
The Buckeyes did have Justin Fields returning at quarterback, along with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson both returning at receiver, though. After having one of the better passing attacks in the country in 2019, most felt that if needed, the passing game would be able to offset any drop in production the running game would suffer.
Then in March, Trey Sermon announced he would be transferring in from Oklahoma to finish his college career at Ohio State. The addition of Sermon, along with Master Teague III, has given the Buckeyes one of the best one-two punches at running back in the nation.
Coming into their New Year's Day matchup with Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes boast the fifth best rushing attack in the FBS. Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis feels this Ohio State team ground game is its identity on offense and that they can have success running the ball on any defense they are matched up against.
"I feel like we showed the world what we've known this entire time, and that's when we have opportunity to run the ball, we can get it done," Davis said. "And we have the running backs to do it, and we have offensive line to do it. And then if we go into passing, we have the quarterback and receivers to do that as well."
There was no better example of just how strong the Buckeyes running game can be than in their 22-10 win over Northwestern in Big-10 Championship Game. Behind Sermon's 331 yards, Ohio State rushed for 399 yards and averaged over 9 YPC against the Wildcats.
Davis, who was just named a first-team AP All-American on Monday, says he feels the Buckeyes are capable of having success on the ground against any defense in the country and that what they did against Northwestern just reinforces that thought process.
"I feel like we have all the tools to be that and I feel like we displayed that this last game and these last couple games," Davis said. You know, going against great teams, Northwestern was a great team defensively. I think prior to us playing them, it was very few yards that they gave up rushing. As a matter of fact, if I'm not mistaken, I believe they were the number one rush defense in our conference this year, and to go against a team like that, that's well-coached, has great players, and has big guys up in the middle, and to control the line of scrimmage, I felt like we really showed what our true identity is."