In the days of yore, one running back often lined up and carried the ball again and again and again. It didn’t take too long for that running back to get injured or worn down, and for coaches to decide that the only thing better than one dominant running back was a pair of them.

For me, and many in my middle-aged generation, the idea came home with Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen on Tecmo Super Bowl. A pair of stars were much, much better than one star — if you didn’t want to spend the playoffs hoping for the graphic that popped up when your injured running back was released from the hospital to return to football.

The modern culture in many ways seems to favor a multi-headed monster. Take Alabama, for instance. Back in 2015, the Tide ran to the national title behind Derrick Henry. He won the Heisman, he rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns. He had 8 games with 25+ carries, including 4 with 35+.

The following year, Henry was in the NFL and Alabama, while it had several good backs, didn’t have another Derrick Henry. They also wanted to keep those several good backs in Crimson Tide red and white and not, say, Clemson orange and white. So the Tide split carries between sophomore Damien Harris, sophomore Bo Scarbrough and freshman Josh Jacobs. And the three combined to rush for even more yards than Henry, while leading Alabama back to the CFP title game. None of the 3 averaged 10 carries per game, none had more than 19 carries in any game, and yet the trio accounted for 7 100-yard games individually and 4 games where one back had 2 touchdowns.

Since then, it’s been back and forth. Alabama rode that multi-back train for a couple years, but then went back to Najee Harris or Brian Robinson as their primary back.

Meanwhile, Ohio State has mostly stuck with one primary back. In the Urban Meyer years, having a QB who doubled as a second ground threat helped. But on the whole, Ohio State’s running back depth chart had some distance between 1 and 2. Even last season, while TreVeyon Henderson had to emerge as a freshman to grab the RB1 job, he finished up with 184 carries in 13 games, more than the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 rushers for OSU combined.

But 2022 in Columbus has forged a multi-headed monster. Call it TreMiyan Hayden or DalVeyon Williams. Or whatever you want. A running back rotation has been kind to OSU.

Henderson was the clear No. 1 back before the season, but he has missed one game entirely for injury and played only a single drive in another game for the same reason. Miyan Williams earned his stripes as the No. 2 back, but he too has sat out a game due to injury concerns. And freshman Dallan Hayden is the future in training, an emerging weapon who has used his opportunities to show flashes of the future to come, including one game where both the backs ahead of him were injured and he became RB1.

Williams and Henderson have each had 21 carries in a game. But Hayden has had 17 and 14 in a pair of OSU wins. It’s not that Ohio State has no primary back. It’s that the Buckeyes might have 3 primary backs.

Six games in, how’s it working?

The monster feature back (combined stats of the 3 backs) has 185 carries (almost 31 a game) for 1,183 yards and 13 touchdowns. That fictional player is the best running back in the country. At 197 rushing yards per game, that’s about 42 rushing yards per game ahead of the best actual player– UAB’s DeWayne Brown. Illinois’s Chase Brown actually has 7 carries more than the fictional OSU monster back, but he has over 120 fewer yards and 9 fewer touchdowns.

Ohio State’s rushing offense ranks 15th in the nation, but that total is misleading due to service academies and gimmicky offenses. The Buckeyes are averaging 6.0 yards per carry, which is 5th best in the country.

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And so far, everybody seems happy. The running backs are toeing the line, at least publicly. Earlier in the season, Williams told the media: “We just try to help each other the best we can and help the team win.” He described himself as “a bruiser” while Henderson’s style was “breakout.”

Williams noted the two styles “just come hand-in-hand with each other.” Ryan Day expressed his pleasure this week in his coach’s show that both Williams and Henderson “have had to kind of carry the load, which is good because I think that’s something they both want to do.”

Can Ohio State keep this production going? As long as the Buckeyes keep rolling, watch for more big games from the Ohio State backfield. But be aware that those games might come from any or all 3 Ohio State running backs.