The SEC is known for hard-hitting and stifling defense, but running the football has also become a staple of the conference. So far this season there is a total of seven SEC teams ranked in the top 50 in total rushing yards.
There are many great running backs who have come from this conference such as Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and the list goes on and on—even NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith went to an SEC school.
And while many of the star running backs in this conference have yet to produce what they are capable of, this is still a talented group of players.
Here are the top 10 running backs with three weeks of the 2012 college football season in the books.
Sophomore running back Tre Mason has more rushing yards than starter Onterio McCalebb at the moment, but the senior has had a bigger impact on the team overall. Not only is he averaging close to seven yards a carry, he is a factor in the passing game as well, hauling in five passes in the first three games.
McCalebb scored the only touchdown in the Week 2 loss to Mississippi State, returning a kickoff back 100 yards for a score. He is an explosive runner who should begin to see more carries with the Auburn offense struggling to put up points.
Zac Stacy, who doesn't receive much love because he plays for Vanderbilt, may be the most underrated running back in the entire country. He is averaging over seven yards a carry and scored his first touchdown of the season last week. He got off to a rocky start to the season, but 26 combined carries simply isn't enough for the senior.
Vanderbilt has a feisty team that could make some noise in the later part of the year, and the coaching staff must feed Stacy the ball a little bit more for him to be effective.
Missouri hasn't had much success throwing the ball lately, so the Tigers have been relying on the running game to bail them out. Kendial Lawrence has been just what the doctor ordered, as he has rushed for 242 yards in the first three games, scoring two touchdowns in Week 1 and Week 3.
With this team trying to adjust to the defense of the SEC and losing original start Henry Josey for the entire season, Lawrence is doing a great job of picking up the pieces for this football team.
Head coach Les Miles wanted two running backs to step it up this season and separate themselves from a crowded backfield.
Alfred Blue has been one of the players to take those words to heart, as he has 270 rushing yards on only 40 carries. He has scored one touchdown in the last two games and has become a factor in the passing game, hauling in seven passes for 45 yards.
Blue was much of an afterthought last season, receiving just 78 carries. It appears that he will shatter that production this season and have his best year yet in an LSU uniform.
Marcus Lattimore has not had the type of season that many would have expected early on, but he has been the most consistent offensive player on the team.
With injuries to starting quarterback Connor Shaw, Lattimore has produced. He has averaged just less than five yards a carry, rushed for 235 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Coming off of an ACL injury last season, Lattimore has picked up 12 first downs for the Gamecocks and has three runs of over 20 yards. Expect him to get even better as the season progresses and he becomes more comfortable.
Eddie Lacy who?
True freshman running back T.J. Yeldon has taken the college football scene by storm the moment he stepped onto the field. In just three games, he has 191 rushing yards, 91 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He is one of the most explosive players you will find in this conference and has quickly become a player that all coaching staffs must be prepared for.
Lacy seems to have his feet under him now (after two subpar games), but Yeldon has become a joy to watch down in Tuscaloosa.
Don't look now, but Mississippi State is 3-0 and quietly becoming a team to pay attention to in the SEC.
A lot of that success has to do with junior running back LaDarius Perkins, who is averaging seven yards a carry and has scored four touchdowns. He is one of those backs that gets better as the game goes on, as he is averaging over nine yards a touch in the fourth quarter.
With Perkins carrying the load in the backfield and the Bulldogs' tough defense, Mississippi State could be that surprise team in the SEC this season.
Georgia fans were wondering what the running game was going to look like when Isaiah Crowell got himself kicked off the football team.
Freshman Todd Gurley has had no problems filling in the role as the starting running back, averaging over nine yards a touch and scoring four touchdowns. He has scored at least one touchdown in the first three games.
Gurley has also been a factor on special teams, averaging over 30 yards on kickoff returns and taking one back to the house in the season opener against Buffalo.
When you have the best rushing attack in the SEC and 13th best in the country, there is a good chance you are going to have two running backs make this list.
Kenny Hilliard has stepped it up in a crowded backfield, averaging 101 yards a game so far and scoring a remarkable six touchdowns.
He is averaging over eight yards a carry and has already broken off three runs of 20 yards or more. With the Tigers' talented backfield, it is always difficult to determine who the starter is; but Hilliard has proven early on that he is the man for now in LSU.
Florida would not be undefeated if it weren't for running back Mike Gillislee. They likely wouldn't even be a ranked team, as this Gators offense struggles to move the football without the senior running back on the field. His 346 rushing yards is the best in the SEC and 15th best in the country. Gillislee has scored four touchdowns and has five runs over 20 yards.
As long as Florida can continue to get this type of production out of their running game, this team could contend for a trip to the SEC Championship Game.