Ohio State junior running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in for a touchdown during the first half of the game against Cincinnati. Ohio State won 42-0. Credit: Amal Saeed | Photo Editor

Each of the 91 yards J.K. Dobbins accrued in Ohio State’s season opener against Florida Atlantic were hard-earned and fought for. 

The junior running back had just one rush over nine yards, and averaged three yards-per-carry in the final three quarters of last Saturday’s game.

Dobbins atoned for his sputtering start Saturday, rushing for 141 yards on 17 carries –– all in the first half –– as Ohio State ran the ball at will to the tune of 270 yards. Cincinnati gave up just 111.2 per game in 2018.

“I think J.K. was irritated all week,” head coach Ryan Day said. “Just the same kind of thing –– nothing fit right last week, just didn’t feel right. It was one of those strange opening games, but we worked hard this week.”

With a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the longest scoring run of his career, Dobbins and Ohio Stadium collectively breathed a sigh of relief for the return of the electric running ability only seen in flashes since his freshman season.

The game-breaking play essentially cemented the game’s result, as the Buckeyes went up 21-0 with the score. On his preceding carry, Dobbins scored a 4-yard touchdown, giving him back-to-back scores off of shotgun handoffs in the span of 2:07 of game time.

Dobbins doesn’t pat himself on the back much.

All offseason, the Texas native branded his 1,053-yard sophomore season a “failure,” and said his performance against FAU, which included a fumble that Day called “unexcusable,” left a lot to be desired.

Redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers said Dobbins’ 60-yard-sprint was crucial for Dobbins to get a confidence boost, and it was Myers that held back the closest Bearcat defender to spring the untouched dash to the end zone.

“I was so happy for him,” Myers said. “That was something I know our offensive line really wanted for him.”

Dobbins had 120 yards in the second quarter alone, and had he continued to take snaps in the second half, may have challenged his career-high mark of 203 yards, which he reached in Ohio State’s overtime win against Maryland in 2018.

Saturday was Dobbins fifth-best collegiate performance yardage-wise, and at 8.3 yards-per-carry, nearly doubled his season average from a year ago.

“I was a little more focused on me instead of everything else, so I think that helped a lot,” Dobbins said.

It wasn’t just Dobbins who had success running the ball for Ohio State Saturday.

Following an eight carry, 49-yard game against FAU a week ago, redshirt freshman running back Master Teague turned in another efficient performance against Cincinnati.

Teague had 61 yards on 11 rushes, giving him the second-most carries out of Ohio State’s running back room for the second straight week, and likely solidifying himself as the Buckeyes’ No. 2 option at the position.

“I thought Master ran hard again today,” Day said. “And if he can continue to practice the way that he’s been the last couple of seasons, I think he’s going to have a good season.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields added two touchdowns on the ground as well, behind an offensive line that largely had its way with the Bearcat front.

The Ohio State running game took shape in Week 2, even if Dobbins said he thought his performance was just “okay.”

When the Buckeyes open Big Ten play in their first game on the road next week, Dobbins will be facing an Indiana team that he’s hung 312 total yards on in two previous meetings.