Dobbins Will Make Case as Big Ten's Best Back on Saturday

BruceHooley

You can set your clock by two things when it comes to Saturday's Big Ten championship game between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 8 Wisconsin.

  • The game will kick off shortly after 8 p.m.
  • It won't be long after that when J.K. Dobbins makes his case for Big Ten running back of-the-year.

Dobbins made first-team All-Big Ten on Wednesday, but the honor for the best player at his position went to his opposite number Saturday night in Indianapolis, Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.

Taylor is an outstanding running back.

He's also the second-best back in the Big Ten this year.

The best was, is and will likely be proven again to be Dobbins, the OSU junior who's rushed for 1,657 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.

Sure, Taylor has better numbers in both categories, 1,761 yards and 20 TDs.

Taylor even has slightly better numbers as a receiver -- five more catches for one more yard and three more TDs than Dobbins.

But numbers can lie, and in this case, they're telling a whopper.

Dobbins averages 6.6 yards per-carry to Taylor's 6.3 per-attempt, and Dobbins has carried 29 fewer times overall.

Do the math on the additional carries to equal Taylor's total and Dobbins would have an additional 191 yards, or approximately 100 more than his Wisconsin counterpart.

Ohio State has been so dominant Dobbins hasn't carried the football at all in the second half of four games. Until two weeks ago, he had only 57 second-half carries all year.

But if you think Dobbins is too small and not durable enough to handle the heavy load that Taylor does, consider that in OSU's two biggest games over the past fortnight, Dobbins has gone for 36 carries, 157 yards and two scores against Penn State and 31 attempts, 211 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan.

Couple those performances with Dobbins' 172 yards and one TD against Michigan State and 163 yards and two scores in OSU's earlier 38-7 win over Wisconsin.

At kickoff, MSU's defense was ranked No. 4 against the run.

Wisconsin's was ranked first.

Penn State's was ranked No. 4.

Michigan's was ranked 13th.

So, against four Top 15 defenses, Dobbins averaged over 175 yards per-game and scored 11 touchdowns.

Taylor's team lost twice, to Ohio State and Illinois.

He rushed 132 yards and one score against the Illini.

He managed 52 yards on 20 carries against OSU, with nine of his first 10 carries that day going for two yards or less.

Taylor is a phenomenal talent and has faster straight-line speed than Dobbins, which may make Taylor the better NFL back.

But pro potential isn't what Big Ten honors are supposed to be about. They're supposed to be about collegiate performance, and while Taylor has the more glittering career resume, he's a notch below Dobbins for the best back in the conference this year.

Look for that case to be proven again on Saturday.

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