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Ranking The Opposing Running Back Rooms On The Buckeyes’ 2024 Schedule

We continue our positional rankings of Ohio State’s 2024 opponents with a look at the running backs rooms. There are not many 1,000-yard backs listed below, but that’s partly a product of so many programs using a committee approach. It is also partly a product of the lack of consistent running backs throughout the schedule.

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1) Penn State [Game 8, Nov. 2 – at Penn State]
Last year was viewed as a downturn in the running game for Penn State, but they actually led the Big Ten in rushing (184.9 ypg) and in yards per carry (4.7). Returning junior RBs Nicholas Singleton (1,813) and Kaytron Allen (1,769) have combined for over 3,500 yards rushing in their careers. This duo needs to be more explosive this season to help out the rest of the offense.

2) Oregon [Game 6, Oct. 12 – at Oregon]
The Ducks are replacing last year’s top rusher, but junior Jordan James rushed for 759 yards last year, averaging 7.1 yards per carry and scoring 11 touchdowns. Noah Whittington has rushed for over 1,500 yards in his four-year career but is coming off of a season-ending injury. These aren’t the only two options in a pretty deep RB room.

3) Michigan [Game 12, Nov. 30 – Michigan]
Donovan Edwards has rushed for over 1,600 yards in his three-year career with the Wolverines. Last year he was held under four yards per carry in 10 of Michigan’s 15 games. That cannot happen this year. Kalel Mullings and Benjamin Hall provided some depth last year but they’ll need to do more than that this season. Freshman Jordan Marshall could be called upon.

4) Purdue [Game 9, Nov. 9 – Purdue]
Former walk-on Devin Mockobee has rushed for nearly 1,800 yards in his two years at Purdue. He had six 20-yard carries last season, which is more than Donovan Edwards, Nicholas Singleton, and Kaytron Allen posted. The Boilers have also added Illinois running back Reggie Love, who led the Illini with 567 yards rushing last year. He has over 1,000 yards rushing in his career.

5) Michigan State [Game 4, Sept. 28 – at Michigan State]
Nate Carter has been at Michigan State for three years and has rushed for nearly 1,800 yards. He has seven career 100-yard rushing games. The Spartans added UMass transfer Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams, who rushed for 1,157 yards last year. Michigan State also signed a pair of three-star Texas running backs. Brandon Tullis is one of those signees and he had a strong spring after enrolling early.

6) Iowa [Game 5, Oct. 5 – Iowa]
Leshon Williams and Kaleb Johnson return as a duo for the third year. Johnson led the team in rushing in 2022 (779 yards) and Williams finished second (413 yards), while Williams led the Hawkeyes in 2023 (821) and Johnson finished second(463). This is a relatively deep room, and with a new offensive coordinator in town, things should improve in some form from last year.

7) Indiana [Game 11, Nov. 23 – Indiana]
Every Indiana running back that carried the ball last year is now gone. New head coach Curt Cignetti came over from James Madison and brought his top two rushers with him. Kaelon Black (142-637-1) and Ty Son Lawton (126-568-5) combined for 1,205 yards rushing last year. The Hoosiers also added North Carolina running back Elijah Green, who rushed for 558 yards in 2022.

8) Nebraska [Game 7, Oct. 26 – Nebraska]
Some would call it a “stable,” others a “mish mash.” That’s what Nebraska has at running back this year, but they do have two guys back with starting experience. Emmett Johnson rushed for 411 yards as a freshman last year, while Gabe Ervin rushed for 196 yards in three games (see below) before an injury ended his year. Oregon transfer Damon Dowdell could also be a factor.

9) Western Michigan [Game 2, Sept. 7 – Western Michigan]
Redshirt sophomore tailback Jalen Buckley may be the rare 1,000-yard rusher at a G5 school that didn’t transfer up to a bigger school. As a redshirt freshman last year he rushed for 1,003 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns. He was named MAC Freshman of the Year for his efforts.

10) Northwestern [Game 10, Nov. 16 – at Northwestern]
Cam Porter has rushed for over 1,200 yards in his Northwestern career, with 651 of those yards coming last year. He played in every game last season but never rushed for 100 yards in a single contest. True freshman Dashun Reeder could be involved here. Redshirt freshman Joseph Himon rushed for 135 yards last year. This looks like a pretty thin group of tailbacks.

11) Marshall [Game 3, Sept. 21 – Marshall]
The Herd return their No. 2 rusher from last year in Ethan Payne, who rushed for 335 yards on 83 carries. They also add sixth-year senior Jordan Houston from North Carolina State. Houston spent five years at NC State and had an up-and-down career. His season totals went like this, starting with his freshman season: 526 yards, 143 yards, 83 yards, 544 yards, 96 yards.

12) Akron [Game 1, Aug. 31 – Akron]
The Zips are putting their running game hopes in a pair of Big Ten transfers. Jordon Simmons comes from Michigan State where he rushed for over 500 yards in four years. He had just 11 carries the past two years, however. Marquese Williams transferred from Minnesota. He is a former three-star prospect but did not carry the ball last year.

Ranking the 12 best individual running backs on the Ohio State schedule this year:

1. Kaytron Allen, Penn State
2. Jordan James, Oregon
3. Nick Singleton, Penn State
4. Donovan Edwards, Michigan
5. Noah Whittington, Oregon
6. Devin Mockabee, Purdue
7. Nate Carter, Michigan State
8. Kaleb Johnson, Iowa
9. Leshon Williams, Iowa
10. Reggie Love, Purdue
11. Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams, Michigan State
12. Jalen Buckley, Western Michigan

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