INDIANAPOLIS – While the storyline heading into the Big Ten Championship Game was the health of J.T. Barrett, it was a freshman who stole the show offensively for Ohio State.
Running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 174 yards on 17 carries against the Badgers as Ohio State racked up 238 rushing yards against a Wisconsin defense that hadn't allowed more than 143 yards on the ground in a game all season.
Dobbins was awarded the MVP trophy after the game for his performance – making him the first freshman to win the award – but wanted to make sure that his offensive line got some of the credit, giving them a shoutout on the podium as he raised his individual award in the air.
Speaking in the postgame locker room, Dobbins used every opportunity he could to recognize his front five for their performance.
"It is very special, but I have to give to give all the credit to my offensive line," Dobbins said. "It was great to break off a couple of big ones."
Dobbins broke off runs of both 77 and 53 yards against the Badger defense that had shut down opposing rushing attacks all season. Senior offensive tackle Jamarco Jones said it meant a lot to hear the praise from Dobbins, adding he was proud of the way the Buckeyes' front five performed in front of their freshman phenom.
"That's what it's all about. We go out there, do our job and execute to help this offense as best we can," Jones said. "You've got guys like J.K., J.T., Mike (Weber), it's easy for us because we know at any time, they can pop a big one."
Dobbins' burst is something Ohio State fans, players and coaches have grown accustomed to seeing this season, but it is his willingness to do other things that has continued to stand out amongst his peers.
Senior linebacker Chris Worley said after the game he was just as impressed with Dobbins' blocking ability against Wisconsin, and throughout the season.
"You see the talent in kids like that early on. What made him special to me wasn't running the ball, it was drills (in practice) when we were doing pass-rush," Worley said. "After I would beat him, he would come up to me and say, 'How can I get better?'
"He made some key blocks out there today and that just speaks to the type of person that he is. He wants to be great and has that burning desire."
In games where Dobbins rushes for 100 yards or more, Ohio State is undefeated this season. The last time the freshman didn't carry the ball at least 10 times was in a 55-24 loss to Iowa.
The freshman running back said after the game that while the stats for Ohio State's success seem to favor him and the productivity of the running backs, he trusts the Buckeye coaching staff to put the players in a position to make plays.
"Yeah, we have success whenever I run the ball, but if that's not what the coaches want to do that week, then I am OK with it," Dobbins said.