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The Rise of Ezekiel Elliott

For a while during Ohio State’s 49-7 win over Rutgers, Buckeye fans showed concern over star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

It had nothing to do with Zeke’s health or his attitude – fans were wondering if he would be able to crack 100 yards in the contest and extend his streak of consecutive 100-yard games to an NCAA-leading 13.  Elliott had totaled only 13 yards at halftime, before a third-quarter push got him closer to triple digits.

The concern grew deeper when the Buckeyes took a 42-0 lead early in the fourth quarter, with Zeke sitting at 87 yards.  Would Urban Meyer take him out in favor of the second unit?  Even if he stayed in the game, would he get those 13 yards?

Fear not, Buckeye fans – Elliott had only one carry in the fourth quarter, but it was all he needed.  His 55-yard scamper to the end zone provided all the stats he needed to get that 13th straight game over 100 yards.

At the start of 2014, the running back position was a primary concern.  Losing the talents of a Carlos Hyde was huge, and many worried whether or not a solid player would emerge to replace him.  Four games into the season, Elliott rushed for 183 yards against Cincinnati, and his role as the starter was cemented.

But few expected to see what Zeke has provided since.  On Saturday night, he became Ohio State’s 5th-leading rusher of all time.  His 142-yard performance gives him 3,270 for his career, and allowed him to pass three of the all-time greats – Hyde (3,198 yards), Keith Byars (3,200 yards), and current teammate Braxton Miller (3,261 yards).

Read that again…this current Ohio State team has two of the school’s 6 best runners of all time.  6,531 yards between Elliott and Miller, and they both take the field at the same time when the Buckeyes have the ball.  Has that ever happened on any team in the past?

Next up on the list for Zeke to pass?

4th – Beanie Wells – 3,382 yards
3rd – Tim Spencer – 3,553 yards
2nd – Eddie George – 3,768 yards
1st – Archie Griffin – 5,589 yards

Barring injury or suspension, Elliott has a chance to finish as Ohio State’s 2nd-best rusher of all time.  There are four games left in the season, and if the Bucks win those, they will get a fifth, sixth, and possibly seventh game.

Elliott needs 112 yards to catch Beanie Wells, which equals a typical game for him.  He may get that against Minnesota.

He needs 283 to catch Tim Spencer, which he should grab at some point during the Michigan State game (unless he bursts out to another 200+ yard game before then, like he is capable of doing.)

Eddie George’s numbers will be matched with 498 yards.  Maybe during the game against That Team Up North?  Possibly the Big Ten Championship game, if Ohio State gets to that game?

As for catching Archie Griffin?  No way, unlikely even if he stays for his senior season (which he won’t).  Griffin’s numbers are out of reach for any mere mortal.  Elliott’s 13 straight 100-yard games seems impressive….Archie did it 31 times in a row.  That’s unreal.

It will be fun watching Elliott rise the charts, just as it’s fun watching him race to the end zone over and over again.

Born and raised a Buckeye fan, Jeff Seemann has been covering sports in Ohio for 25 years. He attended The Ohio State University in 1987, where he went to more football games than classes. As a result, he is now (finally) finishing his degree at the University of Cincinnati. He claims to have been in attendance at Earle Bruce's final game (a win over That Team Up North), the Browns' double-OT win over the NY Jets, and the game known as "The Shot". He is only fond of recalling the memories of two of those games. Feel free to annoy him on Twitter at @JeffFromOhio

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