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Projecting Ohio State's 2014 Season: Running Backs
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A season ago, only national runner-up Auburn rushed for more yards than Ohio State's school-record 4,321 yards, so the Buckeyes certainly know their way around a ground game.
However, OSU must now replace the 2,429 yards rushing that departed when Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, Kenny Guiton and Philly Brown all departed.
The good news for the Buckeyes is that they do return the seventh all-time leading rusher in school history in Braxton Miller, so that's a luxury in itself. Other than that, however, there's quite a bit of mystery.
The 2014 Buckeyes will feature a deep stable of running backs, but those guys only combined for about 450 yards rushing a season ago. Obviously, they have a lot to prove, though I do expect them to succeed in doing so.
I have asked people both on our forum and on Twitter who they believe will lead the Buckeyes in rushing and with all of the answers that I received, four different candidates were produced -- Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Bri'onte Dunn and Rod Smith. Clearly, 75% of those answers will be wrong, but each of them could also be 100% correct.
But barring a tie, only one player can lead the Buckeyes in rushing, so here is my projection for the running game in 2014. 
(I have included all players, and not just the running backs. As with the quarterback projections, this is based on a 14-game schedule.)

Player Att Yds Avg TD
Ezekiel Elliott 203 1157 5.7 14
Braxton Miller 165 1056 6.4 10
Dontre Wilson 46 313 6.8 3
Bri'onte Dunn 50 265 5.3 3
Curtis Samuel 37 200 5.4 1
Cardale Jones 27 176 6.5 2
Warren Ball 28 137 4.9 1
Rod Smith 25 130 5.2 0
Jalin Marshall 12 84 7.0 0
J.T. Barrett 11 50 4.5 1
Johnnie Dixon 6 48 8.0 1
Noah Brown 4 31 7.8 1
Cameron Johnston 2 27 13.5 0
James Clark 2 19 9.5 0
Total 618 3692 6.0 37

As you can see I have Ezekiel Elliott as the Buckeyes' leading rusher, and despite the various opinions out there, I am really quite confident in this projection. I only have him pegged for 14.5 carries per game, which could very well be low. However, with the way the football is planning on being spread around, I didn't want to go too high too soon.

I am also comfortable with his 5.7-yard-per-carry average, which is three yards below his 8.7-yard average last year. He will see more short-yardage carries this year, which means he will see more short-yardage gains. Plus, there is no Florida A&M on the schedule this year.

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