It’s rare the star of a national championship run and leading Heisman Trophy contender for an undefeated powerhouse goes unappreciated, but such is the case for Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott hasn’t generated the same kind of buzz on the national landscape this season as running back counterparts Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry or Dalvin Cook, but the Buckeyes’ picture of consistency put his contributions in the Ohio State record books Saturday.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) November 14, 2015
Elliott’s 15th straight 100-plus-yard rushing game is also his 20th such performance in his career, tying him with Buckeye legend Eddie George for second-most in program history.
With 181 yards Saturday against Illinois, Elliott’s now at 1,423 for the season. If the Buckeyes can match last season’s run to the national championship game, that gives Zeke five opportunities to break George’s single-season record of 1,927 rushing yards, which Elliott came within striking distance of in 2014 (1,878).
George’s record-setting 1995 campaign culminated with him winning the Heisman.
Ezekiel Elliott is obviously a terrific ball-carrier, and has been the cornerstone of the Ohio State offense this season as its sought an identity with Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett exchanging quarterbacking duties.
The most overlooked element of Elliott’s all-around overlooked play, however, is his terrific blocking. He picks up blitzes on pass-rushes with expertise, and as demonstrated on this lead-block to spring Barrett for a touchdown, can hit defenders downfield.
Elliott can take sole control of No. 2 among Ohio State ball-carriers next week with 21 100-plus-yard games, if he can solve Michigan State’s No. 23-ranked rush defense.
No. 1, however, is out of the question.
Two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin reached that milestone 34 times, and a staggering 31 consecutive — almost double Elliott’s prolific output.
Griffin’s all-time record ranks among college football’s greatest individual accomplishments, which we may never see broken.