Power Ranking the Big 12's Best Backfields for 2013

Ricky FrechCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2013

Power Ranking the Big 12's Best Backfields for 2013

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    Big 12 football is known for offenses that put up major points through their pass-happy attacks, but the conference is also home to some of the best running backs in the nation.

    In fact, the conference boasts two teams in the top 25 nationally in rushing yards and five in the top 30 for rushing touchdowns.

    Not quite the same dominance the Big 12 has in passing yards (five in the top ten), but still pretty exceptional for a league that throws the ball so often.

    But which team owns the best backfield heading into 2013? Read on to find out.

10) Iowa State Cyclones

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    Key Players: James White, Shontrelle Johnson

    2012 Team Stats: 465 carries, 1,951 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 10 TDs

    Iowa State returns two guys who rushed for over 500 yards last year, which is nice.

    However, those two guys only had four touchdowns between them.

    That's not so nice.

    The Cyclones will also be breaking in Sam Richardson at quarterback, who'll be taking over full-time after starting a few games late in 2012.

    That could either lead to an uptick in production because of more carries, or a downward trend due to teams being able to stack the box more often.

9) TCU Horned Frogs

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    Key Player: B.J. Catalon

    2012 Team Stats: 512 carries, 1,977 yards, 3.9 yards per carry, 13 TDs

    B.J. Catalon had a decent 2012, rushing for almost 600 yards, but he wasn't able to find the end zone even once.

    That could be bad news because TCU loses his running mate, Matthew Tucker, who accounted for six of the Horned Frogs' touchdowns.

    You also have to worry that, because quarterback Casey Pachall is coming back, Trevone Boykin won't be able to make much of an impact any more.

    However, everything changes depending on how Waymon James does when he comes back.

    You have to worry about how good he'll be after a big knee injury, but if he comes back and dominates, then TCU is going to shoot up this list fast.

8) Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Key Players: Kenny Williams

    2012 Team Stats: 399 carries, 1,819 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 15 TDs

    The Red Raiders led the nation in passing yards in 2012, so it would stand to reason that they're going to be in last place in the Big 12 in total rushing yards.

    That said, Kenny Williams was able to put up 824 yards on limited carries and could creep closer to 1,000 yards as the team breaks in a new starting quarterback.

    However, Texas Tech did lose Eric Stephens Jr. this year, so it's difficult to put them much higher as a backfield, regardless of how good Williams could be next year.

7) West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Key Player: Andrew Buie

    2012 Team Stats: 461 carries, 2,234 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 21 TDs

    Andrew Buie wasn't exactly the picture of consistency last season, but part of that is because West Virginia got into so many shoot-outs in 2012.

    Buie was able to put up 851 yards and had a monster 207-yard, two-TD game against Texas in the middle of the season.

    However, the big reason the team is lower in the rankings is because they lost the explosive Tavon Austin.

    Austin rushed for 643 yards and averaged almost nine yards per carry.

    It's going to be very tough to replace that kind of production.

6) Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Key Player: Jeremy Smith

    2012 Team Stats: 519 carries, 2,799 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 35 TDs

    It was very difficult to decide where to put these next three teams due to various circumstances. 

    In fact, from 4-6 you could basically rearrange them in any way and it would be acceptable.

    The Cowboys' offense was dealt a huge blow when star running back Joseph Randle decided to forgo his senior season and go to the NFL.

    With Randle, this is probably the best backfield in the conference.

    Without him, well, that's much harder to get a handle on.

    Jeremy Smith is a great talent, but he's also been prone to injuries over his first three years.

    If he is able to stay healthy, he could be the Big 12's best running back, as his averages equate to over 1,400 yards and 20 TDs if given starter's carries.

    However, it's going to come down to if he can stay healthy, as well as how Desmond Roland performs with more carries in situations that actually matter.

5) Kansas State Wildcats

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    Key Player: John Hubert

    2012 Team Stats: 526 carries, 2,522 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 42 TDs

    John Hubert is criminally underrated because of the fact that he's played his entire career in the shadow of Collin Klein.

    The good news is that, Klein is now gone and this is Hubert's backfield, which could lead to him finally topping 1,000 yards in 2013.

    The bad news is that, Klein is now gone and Hubert is now the main option in the Wildcats running attack.

    Hubert is 5'7", which causes a little worry over whether he can shoulder the lion's share of the carries, but K-State had another small guy who toted the rock over 200 times a season for them in the early 2000s.

    You might've heard of him, Darren Sproles. Yeah, he was okay.

    That said, it's hard to rank K-State's backfield any higher until we see them without Klein putting up big numbers.

4) Kansas Jayhawks

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    Key Player: James Sims

    2012 Stats: 558 carries, 2540 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 19 TDs

    Kansas has one of the better backs in the conference in James Sims, one of three running backs to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2012.

    Sims has produced in every season that he's been a Jayhawk, rushing for over 700 yards in each of his three years.

    Add in Tony Pierson and his 760 yards, and this looks like one of the better backfields in the Big 12.

    Kansas is also one of two teams to have two backs in ESPN's postseason top 10 rankings.

    Not bad for a team that only won one game.

3) Oklahoma Sooners

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    Key Players: Damien Williams, Blake Bell

    2012 Team Stats: 434 carries, 2,098 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 30 TDs

    Much like Kansas State, the Oklahoma Sooners feature a solid running back who, in 2012, coupled with a power-running QB to scores tons of TDs.

    However, unlike K-State, OU gets their quarterback back on campus in 2013.

    Damien Williams is a threat to break 1,000 yards next season and looks poised to have a great senior year in Norman.

    That said, Blake Bell is the player that takes OU's backfield to another level.

    Bell has rushed for at least 11 touchdowns in each of his years on the team and should continue blowing up would-be tacklers, while becoming the Sooners' starting quarterback.

2) Texas Longhorns

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    Key Players: Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown

    2012 Team Stats: 492 carries, 2,229 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 33 TDs

    The Texas Longhorns own what is probably the deepest backfield in the Big 12, as all three of their key running backs could start on any given day.

    For my money, Johnathan Gray should be the man on this team, but you can't discount Bergeron's ability to find the end zone (16 TDs last year), or Brown's early season success before his injury.

    The scary thing is that they're all young and should continue to just get better and better.

    Really, the sky's the limit for this triumvirate.

    It's just a matter of how many times Mack Brown and his staff give them the ball.

1) Baylor Bears

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    Key Players: Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin

    2012 Team Stats: 597 carries, 3,012 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 38 TDs

    Let's begin with this highlight.

    Now that you're back from watching that insane display of will and determination, you probably see why Baylor is ranked so highly on this list. 

    However, if you still have doubts, let's look at the facts.

    Seastrunk might be a little too confident in his abilities, but that doesn't mean that he's not on the list of Heisman dark-horse candidates in 2013.

    The young man didn't even really get to play until the last six games of the season, and he still rushed for 1,012 yards.

    Give him the other seven games, and he might've had a chance to beat out Joseph Randle for the conference's leading rusher.

    Oh, and the Bears also have Glasco Martin, who rushed for 889 yards and 15 TDs last year.

    Not a bad duo for Baylor, and those two are more than enough to give Baylor the best backfield in the Big 12.