Buckeyes Banking On Beanie

An Ohio State victory this weekend would likely be the result of a big game from junior running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. Heading into the Michigan game, Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel put Wells in some exclusive company. Take a look at what sort of impact Wells could have this weekend in this article.

One carry put him on the map, but 39 others solidified Chris Wells as a legend within the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

Now the task is for Beanie to solidify that legend status this weekend with a third – and likely final – game against the Wolverines. Heading into the final regular-season game of the year, OSU head coach Jim Tressel offered some high praise for his junior tailback.

"He would be the most talented running back I've ever coached," Tressel said of Wells. "Anyone that get can around 3,000 yards is a great one. I've only been at this level for eight years, but he's truly the most talented."

With his 143-yard game last weekend against Illinois, Wells vaulted himself into fifth place in OSU's record books with 3,142 career rushing yards. With 59 more yards, he will assume sole possession of fourth place in the record books.

But there are plenty of numbers floating around when it comes to Wells. As the Buckeyes turned the page to November, Tressel gave Wells a number and told him to think about it. The number was 467, and it signified the number of yards Wells gained last year in the final month of the season.

That number was buoyed by a career day against the Wolverines. On a frigid afternoon in Ann Arbor, Wells picked up a career-high 222 yards as the Buckeyes attempted just two second-half passes en route to a 14-3 victory.

Look for more of the same this weekend as temperatures are supposed to hover below freezing and the threat of snow will be looming. Add to that the fact that freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor has averaged just 12 pass attempts in his last two outings played in similar conditions, and it figures to be a busy day for Wells.

"He's a great player and he desires to perform very well," senior fullback Brandon Smith said. "I think in any offense, the running game is extremely important. If you can't run the ball, you can't do much else. With us being able to run the ball, (he's) a big piece of our offense."

Wells was not made available to reporters to preview the Michigan game, but he said after the win against Illinois that he does not feel any extra need to perform in such difficult conditions.

"I don't put any extra pressure on myself," he said. "I just go out there and play my game."

When he does so, Wells has proved he is difficult to stop. In his eight games this year, he has been held to less than 100 yards just twice. However, in those two games, the Buckeyes failed to score an offensive touchdown.

Not everyone has been impressed with what Wells brings to the table.

"He's a big guy," Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh said. "He's a big guy with a lot of speed. So I mean, that kind of makes him a little bit harder to stop just because he's not your average running back. But I mean, if you tackle and play the way that we want to play as a defense, I don't think it should pose that big of a deal."

It has been a big deal for the Wolverines during the last two matchups between these two teams, and the Buckeyes will be hoping the Wells who showed up for the last two Michigan games is the one in uniform this Saturday.

Beanie did not start against Michigan as a true freshman two seasons ago, but he did not wait long to make an impact. On his first carry of the game, he was immediately hit in the backfield but bounced free and streaked into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown that gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game.

He would add just four more carries for an additional four yards, but a legend was born.

"Each week, Beanie is excited about carrying the ball," Smith said. "He wants to break the big run. The bigger the game ... great players make great plays in big games. He shouted that out during the season."

Senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie described Wells as the type of player who inspires his offensive linemen to play better.

"I know last year's Michigan game they did a lot of good things," Robiskie said. "When he's off to getting big runs and doing a lot of the things you see him doing, I think it's a lot of it is credited to the offensive line and the receivers down field getting blocks for him. Obviously, he's doing a lot but I think it's everybody else stepping up as well."

That is the expectation Wells' teammates have for him as well as themselves this weekend.

"Whenever the stakes get higher, he plays better," senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. "The stakes are about as high as they can get right now. He can change a game at any moment. He's played his best in the big games. I don't expect this to be any different."


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