Banged-up Beanie comes through again
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
|Matthew Emmons/US Presswire|
|All eyes were focused on Ohio State's Chris Wells Saturday. In what may have been his final college home game, Wells ran for 134 yards against Michigan.|
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At his absolute best, Chris "Beanie" Wells was 80 percent healthy this fall. And he finished the regular season with 1,091 rushing yards in only nine games played.
Against Michigan on Saturday, Wells topped out at 75 percent. And the Ohio State junior running back still finished with 134 rushing yards in only three quarters.
"There's no words that can explain how good Beanie is," quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. "He's a beast."
How good can Wells be at 100 percent?
NFL general managers and scouting directors will ponder that question for the next few weeks. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez already knows his answer, calling Wells a sure-fire first-round draft pick if he chooses to leave Ohio State a year early.
Saturday was all about the 28 Ohio State seniors who finished their careers without ever losing to Michigan. But it also could have been the final home game for Wells, who moved into fourth place on the school's all-time rushing list (3,276) and became just the sixth player in team history to record consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Was this Wells' goodbye at The Shoe?
"It didn't go through my mind at all," he said. "I didn't think about it."
Wells on Saturday reaggravated a right hamstring injury that he originally sustained while hurdling an Illinois defender last week. He said the hamstring "hurts pretty bad" but fully expects to be ready for Ohio State's bowl game in January.
"You never know if they're really healthy," head coach Jim Tressel said. "We'll just have to get him ready for the next one."
It's just the latest injury setback for Wells, who missed three games with a right foot/toe injury. But the ailments haven't slowed him down, and he made arguably the biggest play in Saturday's game early in the third quarter with Ohio State up by only seven points.
Michigan was moving the ball on offense and had pinned Ohio State at its own 9-yard line, but on first down Wells scooted through a hole on the left side and raced 42 yards. Backup Dan "Boom" Herron followed with a 49-yard touchdown on the next play.
Neither player was touched by a Michigan defender.
"Every year, we know it's going to take big plays to win football games," said Wells, who put Ohio State on the board with a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. "The offensive line knows it and the rest of the skill guys know it. It was just hard work."
Despite a large senior class filled with multiyear starters, Wells has served as Ohio State's emotional leader this season. So it was no surprise that he addressed the team before Saturday's game.
"I told them we had to fight for those who were no longer going to be here," Wells said.
Whether he's one of them remains to be seen. If he is, Wells will cherish Saturday.
"It's incredible," he said. "It's such an honor and a blessing to be able to say I'm a part of something. I'm a part of a team that beat Michigan five years in a row. It's kind of like unreal to me.
"It's something that's never been done before. To finally be a part of something that happens, it's great."