Ezekiel Elliott lifted his jersey for a brief moment after his 80-yard touchdown run Monday against Virginia Tech, showing off the abdominal muscles he made famous during Ohio State’s run to the national championship last season.
NCAA banned the so-called “crop top” look after last season. Players can’t tuck their jerseys underneath their shoulder pads. That rule change didn’t sit well with the Elliott family.
“In protest I will wear a #croptop jersey all next SEASON!” Elliott’s father Stacy Elliott wrote on Twitter in March.
On Tuesday, Ezekiel Elliott asked his Twitter followers if anyone took a photo of his brief protest. Then Wednesday, he retweeted the photo to the NCAA’s account and wrote, “#InCropTopsWeTrust.”
While Elliott’s abs may see little light of day the rest of this season, he’ll have plenty of chances to flex his muscles in the months ahead. No. 1 Ohio State showed its big-play potential in its season-opening 42-24 victory at Lane Stadium.
Ohio State scored five touchdowns on plays of 20 or more yards. Its six touchdowns accounted for 237 yards, or 41.4 percent of its total offense (572 yards).
Ohio State averaged 10.2 yards per play, a new school record. It set the previous record of 10.0 in the 59-0 victory against Wisconsin last December in the Big Ten championship.
With 11 carries for 122 yards, Elliott topped 100 yards for the sixth straight game. He moved into 19th placing in Ohio State rushing history with 2,284 yards. If he can match his total of last season (1,878), he would end his junior year second on Ohio State’s career rushing list behind Archie Griffin (5,589).
“It’s great to be on a team this good,” Elliott said. “All these guys around you are great players. We were even missing three other guys on offense (Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith, who were suspended) who can change the game. There’s not really any pressure. Just do your job. You can trust the guys around you to make plays.”
Despite the gaudy numbers, Ohio State’s offense did not play a mistake-free game. Two turnovers led to Virginia Tech scores in the second quarter.
Coach Urban Meyer described the offensive line’s performance as average. It did not allow a sack but committed a couple of costly penalties. Center Jacoby Boren’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the first drive cost the offense 15 yards. A holding penalty against left guard Billy Price negated a 16-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cardale Jones on Ohio State’s third possession.
“It all depends on your expectation level,” Meyer said, “and ours at this point (is high). I wouldn’t say we played great. … I think they were really good, but we have to play better.”
Elliott admitted he was rusty, and Virginia Tech focused on shutting Ohio State’s running game down.
“I missed spring ball,” Elliott said. “That was kind of tough. It was my first time going live since we played the national championship game in January. I was a little impatient with my running. I had the muffed punt. Overall, I can get better.”
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