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Ezekiel Elliott sets sights on history after record-setting performance

Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrates after his offensive player of the game performance in the College Football Playoff National Championship against Oregon on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas. OSU won, 42-20. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrates after his offensive player of the game performance in the College Football Playoff National Championship against Oregon on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas. OSU won, 42-20.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

ARLINGTON, Texas — After leading Ohio State to a win against Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship, Ezekiel Elliott named off a few Buckeye greats that came before him.

The sophomore running back praised the legacy of fellow running backs Archie Griffin, Eddie George and Beanie Wells, but Elliott’s performance gave him something those three never had: a national title.

“Just being able to accomplish something that all of them weren’t able to accomplish, it means the world to me, and I’m happy that I was able to carry on that lineage this season,” Elliott said.

In order to get the spark the No. 4 Buckeyes needed to pick up their 42-20 win against the No. 2 Ducks, Elliott piled up 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries — all career highs. And he did it to cap a run of three postseason games in which he rushed for at least 220 yards.

In total, Elliott had 696 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in postseason wins against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the title game.

But as the individual accolades continue to pile up — he was the Offensive Player of the Game in both the Sugar Bowl and the playoff final — Elliott saved credit for the players leading the way around him.

“Just getting the MVP, I credit that to my big boys up front, actually everybody on the offense,” he said. “Everybody does their job, and nothing would be possible without that team effort.”

While coach Urban Meyer saved some credit for the Buckeye offensive line as well, it took him just two words to describe his feature running back — “A monster.”

He said Elliott is a humble player, but he stressed that Elliott doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.

“He’s the most underrated back in America,” Meyer said. “He’s one of the best post-contact yard guys I’ve ever been around, and on top of that he’s a great human being.”

Beyond his off-field attributes and single-game performances, Elliott peppered his name in the single-season OSU record books, despite not starting any games as a freshman last year. Elliott’s 1,878 yards on the ground this season are good for second-most in program history, while his four touchdowns against Oregon were a postseason-game OSU record.

Looking back to the beginning of the season, OSU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said he knew what kind of player Elliott could be, as long as the pieces came together around him.

“We knew he was a special talent last year as a freshman, and all we needed was the offensive line a little bit to grow up a little bit and improve,” Herman said. “And they did that, and you saw the fruits of that in his performances.”

Herman and Meyer both said they saw the type of player Elliott was last season, but the St. Louis, Mo., native had just 30 carries for 262 yards and two touchdowns last season. Just a year later, he totaled 273 attempts for those 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also adding 28 receptions for 220 yards through the air.

And after the breakout season, Elliott could find himself in the company of players like Griffin and George on another stage, this time as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

George won the award in 1995 and Griffin won it in 1974 and 1975 to become the only two-time recipient, but Elliott has already won it in his own right — even if it came in the virtual world.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid when you’re playing ‘NCAA Football’ and you create your little player, and he wins the Heisman,” Elliott said. “Just thinking that I’m going to have the opportunity next year to compete for the Heisman, just it means everything.”

But even with the trophy in mind, Elliott stressed the potential to contend won’t change his attitude going forward.

“I’m not going to change, I’m going to keep grinding,” he said. “I’m going to do all I can to win it.”


  1. When ESPN started the game day show off with “If Your Don’t Believe Just Watch” we started dancing and burst into laughter because I remember posting that HERE!!!! hahahaha “You’re a winner for a lifetime if you seize that One Moment in Time…MAKE IT SHINE(RIP Whitney Houston)!!! How many times did I come here and post that EVERYONE counted this team out and if they win WHO SHOULD BE THE COLLEGE COACH OF THE YEAR?????? Congrats to Terrelle Pryor and Cardale Jones for successful DUCK HUNTS!!! hahaha Can’t believe my baby buckeye tweeted Bass Pro Shops (sponsor for ESPNs First Take) she’s going shopping for a successful duck hunt! hahahahahaha

    OMG OMG OMG Congrats TEAM BUCKEYES for saying to Jim Harbaugh “Welcome to the B1G Ten!!”

  2. Zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!

  3. Nice going Schmuckeyes. That’s your new name seeing as how your coach pulled a classless stunt in scoring another touchdown with a little over a minute to go. But I guess piling it on is a way to address the “nobody loves us” syndrome. Something tells me 2015 has quite a bit of payback in store for OSU, and I don’t just mean from Oregon.

    • Trent- Bravo? you talk so intelligent Michigan isn’t going and the fact that your even a fan makes me laugh??? go Roll Tide!!!!????

  4. Seriously Trent?
    This team tried to run the clock out on the series before and the Ducks kept calling timeouts when there was no way they had a chance to come back two scores. You got what you asked for. What a classless way to respond with insults. My suggestion would be that the Ducks learn to combine power and speed for a real football power. Fast pace does not shake the great teams but less than great teams always try the fast pace offense. What’s the series now? Oh Yeah BUCKS 9 Ducks 0

  5. Hey Trent, The Oregon Ducks beat teams consistently this year by 40 points or more while running up the score to impress the pollsters and you are going to complain that we scored a last minute touchdown? What comes around goes around. I’m sure the 2015 Buckeyes will welcome all challenges and play with toughness, grit and focus that brought them the National Championship on Monday night! People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, or Buckeyes!!!! Go Bucks!!!

  6. @Jeff and Mike Morris,

    Blah, blah, blah. OS is so full of hubris it’s hilarious. Really couldn’t care about Oregon since I’m from Michigan. Just glad we finally got a great coach in Harbaugh. Looking forward to 11/28/15 for a little payback. Go Big Blue!!

  7. Trent’s true colors finally show. Just a Michigan cry baby.

  8. @Ben et al Schmuckeyes,

    Last time I checked Michigan leads the series over OSU 58-46. OBTW, no Michigan coach has ever slugged an opposing player. So, neither a cry baby nor a thug here. Enjoy your short lived National Title. A oh, way to go OHIO.

  9. What a little douche this Trent is, and how ignorant of Michigan’s history. Michigan built it’s reputation on it’s “Point a Minute” Teams run by Field “Hurry up” Yost, which consistently ran up the scores. It’s the character that Michigan was truly made of at one point before they turned into the destroyer of coaching reputations.

    And a Michigan puke throwing “hubris” around? That is hilarious. Few public universities ooze more hubris than scUM. They practically have the trademark. I know “Hail to the Victors” has become a sort of sadly ironic song; but, when they were actually good, could anything be more defining of “hubris”?

  10. @Dooley –

    Douche? I’m surprised you knew how to spell the word. And yet it’s entirely out of context. The hubris I spoke of was akin to a bantam rooster strutting around with its chest puffed out when there’s not a lot to back it up. Whatever you think of Michigan, our reputation is well earned and deserved. That’s why it’s a far tougher institution of higher learning to get into than OSU. Results speak for themselves. 58-46 soon to be 59-46 when Harbaugh has the team firing on all cyclinders. Let me know when you have an original thought.

  11. @Dooley and other interested Schmuckeyes,

    Apropos of Dooley’s agitated response, you may want to read the following that ran in your paper:


    Happy reading Zero Heads.

  12. Yes Trent we know how to spell douche, michigan! All this about hubris from the fan of a team that says they have 11 national titles when in fact 8 are shared and 2 are consensus and for sure NEVER UNDISPUTED! I am really glad to see that when you want a good read you turn to the greatest college publication “The LANTERN”. GO BUCKS! I am glad you got your Harbaugh. What will be your excuse for the next 11 years?

  13. @Mike Morris –

    Hey Mikey, let me disabuse you and the other Schmuckeyes as to the reputation of the Latern: it doesn’t exist. Based on the Princeton rankings, your rag is not even listed. So much for trumpeting the merits of your august publication. Or is it just “hubris” coming through. I’ve come to the conclusion that debating you and the other Zero Heads is akin to child abuse.

  14. Trent –
    I’ve been reading your comments and decided to jump in here because it’s apparent you don’t like Ohio State period. And that’s your right, however misinformed it may be. To be sure, Michigan is a fine school with a good reputation, both for academics and athletics. But let’s keep all of this in perspective. For starters, both OSU and Michigan are from the “old” Big-10. This win is actually a win for both schools. In fact, if you look over the recently completed Bowl season, Big-10 teams fared very well. Michigan State came back to beat Baylor and Wisconsin came back to beat Auburn. If nothing else, the Big-10’s showing in all of these games should underscore the prowess of Big-10 football. Enough said.

    As to your animus toward Ohio State and the comical moniker of Schmuckeyes I again can only say you’re entitled to your opinion; however, it does occur to me, and probably as much to other readers of The Latern, that your choice of words and ad hominem attacks, actually belittles you and the University of Michigan. Maybe the Daily Michigan is a better paper. I don’t really know since I don’t read it. I do know that for the purposes of Ohio State alumni, faculty and current students The Latern satisfies our needs. And in the final analysis that’s all that really counts. It’s written for the local readership, not for the sour grapes of the world.

    Lastly, Jim Harbaugh is an exceptional coach. He had a stellar record at Stanford and San Francisco. And I think many people recall his exploits at Michigan. Urban Meyer is also an exceptional coach as evidenced by what he had to work with during the 2014 season. And let’s not forget that his team had to work with a 3rd string quarterback. You talk openly about the showdown on November 28 between our respective teams. I have no doubt that it will be a good game and nobody knows for certain who will win though I confess that my bias is apparent when I say that OSU will emerge the victor. But let’s keep this in perspective. It’s just a game, and at the end of the day we’re both a part of the Big-10. Let’s leave it at that. Enjoy your day Trent.

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