COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s Chase Young, J.K. Dobbins and Justin Fields might have raised their Heisman Trophy profiles during the Buckeyes’ big 38-7 win over Wisconsin on Saturday.
And the Badgers’ Heisman hopeful, Jonathan Taylor, might have seen his chances take a hit in the always over-reactive, what have you done for me lately world of tracking Heisman candidates.
Young, a junior defensive end, was already tied for the lead nationally in sacks with 9.5 before he recorded four more against Wisconsin. He forced fumbles on two of the sacks, was a nightmare for the Badgers’ passing game and played well against the run, too.
Young, who has 13.5 sacks, might be the best player in college football but could probably finish with 25 sacks and still not win the Heisman, which has gone to a defensive player only once, Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.
And Woodson had to spice up his resume by returning punts for touchdowns and catching passes to win the voters’ approval in a vote that remains controversial in some areas because it dropped Peyton Manning to the runner-up spot.
Dobbins ran for 163 yards on 20 carries and was effective as a receiver when OSU’s passing game started slowly in the first half.
Fields’ statistics (12 of 22 for 167 yards passing and two touchdowns; 28 yards rushing on 13 carries and a touchdown) weren’t exciting. But he ran for tough yards when OSU needed him to do that and now has thrown 24 touchdown passes with only one interceptions in his first season in Columbus.
Ohio State’s defense once again proved to be kryptonite for Wisconsin’s Taylor, who has rushed for 100 yards or more in 28 of the 35 games he has played for the Badgers.
The junior running back’s three worst college games have been 41 yards on 15 carries against OSU in the 2017 Big Ten championship game, 46 yards on 11 carries against Northwestern last season, and 52 yards on 20 carries on Saturday.
Ohio State’s defense dropped Taylor for losses on two carries and held him to no gain three other times on Saturday.
Fields said Ohio State’s players “messed with” Dobbins in the week leading up to the game about the match-up with Taylor.
“We were messing with J.K. the whole week talking about the best Big Ten running back is coming at The Shoe,” Fields said.
After the game, Dobbins said he “just wanted to get the win” and “wasn’t worried about any of the side distractions.”
OSU coach Ryan Day saw it a little differently. “J.K. ran with a chip on his shoulder. Jonathan Taylor is a wonderful back but he felt like he wanted to be the best running back in the game today,” Day said.
He called Young “probably the most dominant player in all of college football now.”
Ohio State’s dominating win over a ranked team, the best team it has played so far, showed it can rise to the occasion.
Whether it ends up with anyone in contention for the Heisman is a question that will be answered later.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau