5. Illinois’ Reggie Corbin led the Illini rushing attack with 1,085 yards on 128 attempts, an 8.5 yards per carry (YPC) average (3rd best in the nation and best among P5 backs) while scoring 9 TD’s. Corbin is a combination of power, speed, & consistency, evidenced by his season’s long run of 80 yards, his ability to run between the tackles, and his yards per game (YPG) average of 90.4! The Illinois O-Line returns four starters and Alabama transfer, Richie Petitbon, should fill that gap left by Nick Allegretti! Corbin also has capable back-up support @ RB, 1st, from all-purpose back, Mike Epstein and then, from speed demon, red shirt freshman, Jakari Norwood.
4. Indiana’s Stevie Scott rushed the ball 228 times in 2018 for 1,137 yards, 5.0 YPC, & 10 TD’s. His long run in ’18 was 45 yards and he averaged 94.8 YPG! It should be noted that Scott set true freshmen records @ Indiana, in Total Yards gained, TD’s scored and 100 yard plus rushing games (6)! The Hoosiers will have rebuild the O-Line, as only 2 starters return for the 2019 season. Scott will have capable backups, junior speedster, Cole Gest & incoming, 4-star recruit, Sampson James. James had offers from Ohio State, Michigan, ND, Florida State, Georgia, & Tennessee! Finally, a fact to remember when one is evaluating Scott, he not only has speed and power, he is a brute, standing 6’2 and weighting in at 233 pounds!
4. Maryland’s Anthony McFarland (Please note: I had a tie for the 4th position, primarily because I thought that Corbin needed to be included in this Top 5 count)! McFarland ran for 1034 yards on 131 carries, averaged 7.9 YPC, and scored 4 TD! His long run was for 81 yards (the 1st time he touched the ball vs Ohio State and oh, by the way, the very next time he touched the ball against the Bucks, he went 75 yards, both runs resulted in TD’s) and he averaged 86.1 YPG! McFarland set freshmen records of Total Yards & YPC average! Three starters return on the O-Line, however, after the starters the line is thin! RB, LoLo Harrison is back from knee surgery and will add immediate depth, as he average 8.4 YPC last year before the injury!
3. Minnesota’s Rod Smith/Mo Ibrahim after Smith and Shannon Brooks when down in 2018 with ACL injuries, the relatively unknown Ibrahim stepped up and ran for 1,160 yards on 202 carries, averaged 5.7 YPC, and scored 9 TD’s! Ibrahim’s long scamper was for 74 yards and he averaged an impressive 116.0 YPG in 2018! In fact, Ibrahim, Smith, and Brooks have rushed for over 5,000 yards and scored nearly 50 TD’s! It is a fact, that no program in the B-10 has the ‘proven depth’ of the Gophers! The O-Line will need to be restructured do to graduation and position change! The Gophers have great momentum heading into the 2019 season, whipping the Badgers (37-15) to rclain the Axe (Wisconsin had won 14 straight) and then winning the Quick Lane Bowl, vs G-Tech, 34-10!
2. Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins split carries with the talented Mike Weber (173 carries for 954 yards, 5.5 YPC, & 73.4 YPG), that said, Dobbins ran for 1053 yards on 230 carries, 4.6 YPC, & scored 10 TD’s! His long run in 2018 was for 42 yards and he averaged 75.2 YPG! Master Teague or Demario McCall will be the back-up, both are talented, yet unproven, runners! That said, McCall is the better receiver which may give him a ‘leg up’ in securing the backup role. The O-Line lost 4 of the 5 starters, only LT, Thayer Munford returns. Per usual, there is talent and they will have time to develop it, as the Bucks play 3 G5’s and @ Indiana in their 1st 4 games. Look for Dobbins to run for 1500 plus yards in 2019, as the # of carries will increase (Weber’s departure) and the talented O-line gains experience!
1. Wisconsin’s Jonathon Taylor is not only the best runner in the B-10, he is the best runner in the country! He is blessed with a rare combination of speed, vision, and power. In his 1st 2 years, Taylor has rushed for over 4000 yards! Last year, he amassed 2,194 yards (which led the nation) on 307 carries , averaged 7.1 YPC, & scored 16 TD’s! Taylor longest run from scrimmage was 88 yards and his average, 168.8 YPG, also was the best the nation! Depending on how the Badgers substitute in their 1st 2 games (a wary-eye on Michigan, who comes to Mad-town in week three) against South Florida and Central Michigan; Taylor could be around that 600 yards rushing mark when he crosses the lines to face the Wolverines! Remember, Taylor has finished in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting the past 2 years and a great start would go along way to getting him to New York! The O-Line lost 4 starters, yet, the leader of last year’s beef steaks, Center, Tyler Biadasz returns to provide needed leadership. The USF game will be an interesting gage to measure the depth of the O-Line off season maturing! RB support will be provided by power back, Garrett Groshek!