- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
Mike Weber plans to stay humble and keep proving people wrong. He did both Saturday as the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes routed Oregon State 77-31 at Ohio Stadium.
Slowed early last season by a hamstring injury and then overshadowed by freshman J.K. Dobbins, Weber looked like the go-to running back in the 2018 season opener. He rushed for a career-best 186 yards on 20 carries and matched his career high with three touchdowns.
“I’m 100 percent,” said Weber, a redshirt junior, “and I’m ready to do anything I can to help the team win. That’s my job. That’s why I came back.”
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Weber could have declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft after the 2017 season. Instead, he returned, and his presence gives Ohio State one of the nation’s best duos in the backfield. He was asked if he’s as good as Dobbins, who didn’t have a bad day himself, gaining 74 yards on 15 carries.
“Sometimes you look at that stuff and you see people say (Dobbins is clearly better than he is) and it’s like, a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about,” Weber said. “It gets frustrating sometimes, but me and our coaches and me and J.K. do a good job of knowing what’s real and knowing how we are because he’s a hell of a player and we both are really good for each other. We knew that the whole way through. The opportunities came, and we just made the best of them.”
Ohio State’s offense produced 721 yards, the second-highest total in school history. More than half of the total yards (375) came from the running game. Dobbins and Weber rotated series through the first three quarters. Freshmen Master Teague (56 yards) and Brian Snead (25 yards) carried the load in the fourth quarter.
Weber expects he and Dobbins to share carries as the season continues.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Weber said. “I don’t want to carry all the load, but if I have to, I will. He doesn’t want to carry all the load, but if he has to, he will. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Participation report: Ten Buckeyes earned their first starts: quarterback Dwayne Haskins; tight end Rashod Berry; left tackle Thayer Munford; left guard Malcolm Pridgeon; defensive tackle Robert Landers; defensive end Jonathan Cooper; linebackers Baron Browning and Pete Werner; and safeties Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint.
Freshman contributions: In addition to the debuts of Teague and Snead, several other freshmen got on the stat sheet in their first game. Tight end Jeremy Ruckert had one catch for 13 yards. Wide receiver Chris Olave had one catch for five yards.
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Defensive lineman Tommy Togiai had 2½ tackles. Defensive tackle Taron Vincent and defensive ends Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith also had tackles.
Other freshmen who saw action were: linebackers Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell; offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere; and defensive end Alex Williams.
Looking ahead: The Buckeyes play Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Rutgers beat Texas State 35-7 on Saturday despite three interceptions thrown by quarterback Artur Sitkowski.
Ohio State’s third opponent, No. 16 Texas Christian, beat Southern 55-7 in its opener Saturday.