PASADENA, Calif. — Mike Weber’s career at Ohio State has been defined by inconsistency.
After a 1,000-yard season taking over for Ezekiel Elliott in 2015, the now-redshirt junior running back has spent the last two seasons splitting time with sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins, recording only 101 carries in an injury-riddled 2017.
In 2018, he returned to the split-back role, with 858 yards on the ground on 157 carries through the first 13 games, 66 carries less than Dobbins, who took over for Weber at points because of a hamstring injury.
But he had something to prove in the Rose Bowl — what he announced as his final game in an Ohio State uniform. He had an opportunity to show NFL teams the kind of back he could have been for the Buckeyes, the sole back in an offense that used to build momentum off the running game.
What would show that? Weber said he knew he was close to 1,000 yards on the season, which would be the second time he had reached that number in his collegiate career.
142 rushing yards. That was his number. That was his goal.
In the first half, that number seemed within reach.
Facing a stifling Washington defense, one that many considered to be NFL caliber, Weber recorded 86 yards, leading all Ohio State rushers with 12 carries, nine more than Dobbins.
Ohio State was feeding the hot hand, something the team had planned to do all season. And all Weber was trying to do was to follow the blockers and run as hard as he could to reach his goal.
“I feel like I was at a good pace in the first half, but I didn’t really get the ball too much in the second half,” Weber said. “But as long as we come out with the win, I’m happy.”
In the second half, the redshirt junior running back had three carries for 10 yards. It was Dobbins, ending the day with 24 yards on seven carries, who scored the only ground score for the Buckeyes — a 3-yard run in the third quarter to give Ohio State a 28-3 lead against the Huskies.
Weber finished the day 46 yards away from his goal.
With the NFL on his mind, Weber wanted to come out and prove to the country his ability as a back. Instead, he had a good representation of what he felt his Ohio State career was like: incomplete.
“I wanted to prove that when I get the ball, I can do something with it,” Weber said. “That’s really the point because my whole career here, I didn’t [get] the ball too much in my seasons and I feel like if I gave more early, that I can be a threat throughout the game. I think I’m continuing to prove that.”
Weber said he felt like he did his best with the opportunities given to him.
But when asked what he wanted his legacy to be, what he wanted his Ohio State career to be remembered by, it was not the lack of carries, not the split time between him and Dobbins. Actually, part of it was the development of Dobbins and the other younger players in the room into the backs they are currently.
Weber said he wants to be remembered as an example of what to do when he took the field, even through the inconsistency.
“Just a guy that goes hard, a guy that made plays when his number was called, learns from his mistakes and always helps the younger guys,” Weber said.