The Oregon Ducks' stable of backs piled up plenty of yardage in Week 1.
Week 1 of the 2010 college football season had its fair share of close games, demolition derbies, and stand-out performances. There were plenty of Pac-10 teams and players included in all of the mayhem of the opening weekend.
The Oregon Ducks trounced the New Mexico Lobos 72-0, Washington lost a heart-breaker to BYU, USC's offense looked crisp against Hawaii, and UCLA struggled to stop the run against Kansas State, just to highlight a few.
Ranking these teams' running backs is a particularly tough task after just one week. Oregon's star runner LaMichael James was suspended for the team's opener, allowing Kenjon Barner, Remene Alston, and Daryle Hawkins opportunities to rack up yardage.
Other backs around the league, like Arizona State's Cameron Marshall, racked up big numbers against vastly inferior opponents.
With that in mind, power-ranking the Pac-10's top running backs will be a fluid process, possibly shifting dramatically from week to week for the first month until backfield rotations have settled and conference play is well underway.
Thus, here is a close approximation of the top 10 running backs in the Pac-10, based solely on Week 1 performances.
It's difficult to pick out even just two 'backs from Stanford's stable from its 52-17 win over Sacramento State.
But if there's one back to consider, it's Tyler Gaffney.
The 6'0", 216-pound sophomore from San Diego picked up 33 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Gaffney is one of a number of backs, including Stepfan Taylor, Jeremy Stewart, and Usua Amanam, vying to fill the void left behind by Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart.
Like Gerhart, Gaffney is a two-sport star, playing baseball as well as football for the Cardinal. Whether he takes over the starting job or finds himself behind 'Furd's other backs has yet to be determined, but this Saturday's game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl may go a long way toward determining who gets the nod.
Remene Alston is not likely to stay in the power rankings, but he can enjoy his position for now.
Speaking of outstanding performances by back-ups, Remene Alston had himself a field day for the Oregon Ducks against the University of New Mexico.
Granted, the Ducks finished the game with a 72-0 shutout and Alston did most of work after the game was already well in hand, but his 110 yards on 21 carries still ranks as one of the best showings of any Pac-10 ball-carrier thus far.
Chances are, Alston won't see quite as many carries this week, when LaMichael James makes his return in time for a big non-conference tilt at Tennessee.
But for now, Alston makes the list.
Jonathan Franklin could find himself jetting up the rankings in the coming weeks.
The UCLA Bruins may have dropped the opener to the Kansas State Wildcats, but one of the bright spots for the Bruins came out of the backfield.
Starting 'back Jonathan Franklin put up 60 yards on 13 carries, good for 4.6 yard average.
Franklin will certainly be challenged, both by Stanford's defense this weekend and his backfield buddies Derrick Coleman and Malcolm Jones.
Nevertheless, "The Jet" should hang onto the top spot in UCLA's stable, and may climb his way up the power rankings as a result.
Nic Grigsby had a solid showing in UA's opener, and will likely get better as the season rolls along.
Like most teams in the Pac-10, Arizona has itself a talented group of running backs to work with for the 2010 season.
And while bruisers like Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko will get plenty of carries, Nic Grigsby is likely to be the go-to guy for quarterback Nick Foles.
Grigsby demonstrated his ability as a quick, slashing back against Toledo, turning eight carries into 53 yards and two touchdowns to help the Wildcats take their opener 41-2.
While a demolition job of a MAC opponent is far from an accurate indicator of success, Grigsby's fortunes on the field will likely determine how the Cats' season turns out.
Despite this being his first full season as the top running back for Cal, Shane Vereen is one of the most experienced ball-carriers in the Pac-10.
Of all the feature backs in the Pac-10, Shane Vereen has the toughest gig of all.
Filling the sizeable shoes left behind by speedster Jahvid Best.
Not that Vereen doesn't already have plenty of experience. The former Valencia High School star showcased his skills as a redshirt freshman when he ran up 715 yards and four touchdowns as Best's back-up.
And when Best went down part way through the 2009 season with a neck injury, the diminuitive Vereen stepped right in, rushing for 952 and 12 touchdowns and adding 244 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
With 95 total yards and three touchdowns in Cal's season opener against UC Davis, Vereen looks poised to capitalize on his newfound status as the full-time starter for coach Jeff Tedford's Golden Bears.
Chris Polk has developed into one of the more reliable running backs in the Pac-10.
The Washington Huskies came out of Provo, Utah with a 23-17 loss to the BYU Cougars, but at least second-year coach Steve Sarkisian knows who will be looking out for star quarterback Jake Locker in the backfield.
At 5' 11" and a sturdy 210 pounds, Polk has both the size to punish and the speed and shiftiness to escape. He demonstrated his chops as a feature back last year for the Huskies, compiling 1,113 yards and five touchdowns in Sarkisian's first year at the helm in Seattle.
With 92 yards against the Cougars, Polk is off to a solid start to what is sure to be a productive 2010 campaign for him and U-Dub.
"Quiz" will be putting opposing defenses to the test throughout the fall.
Jacquizz Rodgers has been a household name on the West Coast ever since Oregon State made a habit of knocking off USC.
Now a junior, the 5' 7" Rodgers is known around the country as much for his stellar play as for his unique name. "Quizz" already has two thousand-yard rushing seasons under his belt, and few would be surprised if he added another productive season to his resume.
And while the Beavers came away from Corpus Christi with a loss to the TCU Horned Frogs this past Saturday, Rodgers had himself another solid outing, with 75 yards and a touchdown.
Expect plenty more excitement from Rodgers, especially once Pac-10 play gets underway.
Pundits have already likened Cameron Marshall to his Sun Devils predecessor, Ryan Torain.
It's tough to come to any reasonable conclusions after one game, but Arizona State's Cameron Marshall had himself a heck of a day this past weekend, however brief his time and however inferior the opponent.
In dispatching Portland State 54-9, the Sun Devils handed the ball off to Marshall four times, and were rewarded with 104 yards and THREE touchdowns.
As the starter for the Sun Devils, Marshall will have plenty of chances to prove that his Ryan Torain-like performance was no fluke.
Marc Tyler is excited to finally have a shot at productivity with his hometown Trojans.
Amidst an offseason riddled with turmoil and turnover, the USC Trojans came away from a 49-36 victory over the Hawaii Warriors with plenty of reasons for optimism.
Perhaps the most brilliant bright spot was provided by Marc Tyler, the former high school All-American spent four years sitting and waiting behind the likes of Joe McKnight, Allen Bradford, and C.J. Gable after breaking his leg during his senior year at Oaks Christian High School.
With McKnight off to the NFL and Tyler finally healthy, he rose to the occasion and took the reins behind quarterback Matt Barkley, shredding Hawaii's porous defense for 154 yards and a touchdown on only 17 carries.
Unfortunately for Tyler and the rest of his long-suffering backfield 'mates, coach Lane Kiffin is likely to siphon off carries to freshman phenom Dillon Baxter, who sat out the season opener for violating team policy.
However, until Tyler gets shoved aside and stops producing, he'll have a place in the rankings.
No one could keep up with Kenjon Barner on Saturday–not even his teammates.
While Tyler still has a shot to hang on as the starter for USC, Kenjon Barner will have no choice but to surrender his spot in the starting line-up to preseason All-American LaMichael James.
But after setting Autzen Stadium ablaze with 207 total yards and five touchdowns, 147 yards and three touchdowns coming on the ground, coach Chip Kelly would have to be a quack to keep Barner out of the backfield for too long.
Such is the life of the Oregon Ducks football team these days, a team picked to take home the Pac-10 crown at the end of the season after making an appearance in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
Chances are, Barner will see a significant drop in the rankings once James re-establishes himself as the man in Oregon's backfield.
Assuming Barner still gets eight to 12 carries per game, he should still find a place among the Pac-10's top 10.