College Football Power Rankings: The Top 25 Running Backs Heading Into Week 3

Michael PintoSenior Writer ISeptember 15, 2010

College Football Power Rankings: The Top 25 Running Backs Heading Into Week 3

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    This college football season, we'll be doing weekly power rankings of the top skill-position players in the game. 

    Week two action was a wild ride with some of the top teams in the country facing off. 

    We saw a star emerge in the South Carolina-Georgia Game, we saw Trent Richardson do what he does against Penn State, we saw Virginia Tech drop a game they never should have, and we saw Ohio State make a statement against Miami. 

    Some running backs made some noise and some didn't. 

    Here are the power rankings for the top 25 running backs heading into week three. 

25. Jeffery Demps, Florida

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 237 / AVG: 12.5 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 25 / AVG: 5.0 / TD: 0

    Demps is a player to keep an eye on because this Florida back has run wild the first couple weeks of the season. 

    The competition might be Miami (OH) and South Florida but, still, the numbers he's putting up are pretty incredible. 

    Demps is averaging 12.5 yards per carry through two games, with a 72-yard touchdown against Miami and a 62-yard touchdown against South Florida. Tennessee is next; if he does it again this placement will be justified. 

     

24. Washaun Ealey, Georgia

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 75 / AVG: 3.9 / TD: 0 / Receiving Yards: -2 / AVG: -2.0 / TD: 0

    After sitting out week one with a suspension, Washaun Ealey didn't look very impressive against South Carolina in Georgia's loss on Saturday. 

    Ealey might have been the second-leading returning rusher in the SEC behind Mark Ingram, but he hasn't played like it yet. 

    He had 19 carries for 75 yards and a fumble against the Gamecocks in an embarrassing 17-6 loss. Unless he picks it up, Ealey will rush his way right out of the top 25. 

     

23. Kenjon Barner, Oregon

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 173 / AVG: 7.2 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 71 / AVG: 23.7 / TD: 1

    After Barner's record-breaking performance against New Mexico in the season opener, he came back down to earth with LaMichael James back in the starting lineup. 

    Against Tennessee, Barnes received just nine touches and was only able to muster 37 yards out of them. 

    We'll keep him on the list with the hope he can do more, considering he accounted for over 200 yards and five touchdowns in week one. 

     

22. Edwin Baker, Michigan State

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    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 300 / AVG: 9.4 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0.0 / TD: 0

    Baker is really coming into his own as a sophomore and it's time for the nation to take notice. Through two weeks, he's the fifth-leading rusher in the nation, fourth among running backs. 

    After a relatively quiet freshman year, he dominated against Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic in the Spartans' blowout victories. 

    Last week, Baker rushed 15 times for 183 yards and a touchdown. All he needs to do now is develop a receiving game and he might enter the top-end discussion. 

     

21. Vai Taua, Nevada

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    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 169 / AVG: 6.3 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 36 / AVG: 12.0 / TD: 0

    A top-10 rusher from a year ago, Taua is on track to be up there with the best of them again in 2010.

    He plays an easier schedule than most of the backs we're looking at, though, and that hurts his stock.

    After a slow start against Eastern Washington in the opener, Taua went off against Colorado State, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown off 15 carries.

20. Adam Robinson, Iowa

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 265 / AVG: 7.0 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 43 / AVG: 14.3 / TD: 0

    Robinson, like Michigan State's Edwin Baker, has the look of a sophomore ready to break out in a big way.

    We'll admit, we didn't trust the numbers in week one against Eastern Illinois, where Robinson rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns, but after his performance against Iowa State, there's no denying him again. 

    Robinson rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown off 14 carries. Twenty-fourth-ranked Arizona is next, and their suspect defense could get shredded in that one. 

19. Shane Vereen, Cal

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 126 / AVG: 4.2 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 46 / AVG: 9.2 / TD: 2

    Shane Vereen has some big shoes to fill at Cal, taking over for the departed Jahvid Best. But based on his production throughout his career, Vereen seems up to the task. 

    Though things have gotten off to a slow start in 2010, Cal fans who complained last week are right: he deserves a spot on the list. 

    In limited action against UC Davis and Colorado, Vereen has 172 total yards and five touchdowns. 

     

18. Chris Polk, Washington

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 209 / AVG: 5.8 / TD: 1 / Receiving Yards: 9 / AVG: 4.5 / TD: 0

    Polk is another name that got left out of the initial top-25 based on the projections for up-and-coming backs who started strong. 

    The Huskies star has continued to play well while others have faltered, and that's gotten him back where he belongs. 

    He played well in the loss to BYU in week one, with 99 total yards, but played even better in week two: Polk rushed 20 times for 117 yards and a touchdown in Washington's 41-20 win over Syracuse. 



17. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 339 / AVG: 6.5 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 32 / AVG: 8.0 / TD: 0

    Bobby Rainey continues to prove that he belongs among the top 25 running backs in the country. If he keeps it up, we might have to elevate him to elite status. 

    First Rainey ran for 190 total yards and a touchdown against Nebraska, then last week he carried the ball 22 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky. 

    Those are no slouch teams Rainey is going up against. There's a good chance he blows up against Indiana next. 

16. Ed Wesley, TCU

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 219 / AVG: 7.8 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 1 / AVG: 1.0 / TD: 0

    Wesley's stats aren't overly impressive, but he's splitting carries pretty much 50/50 with Matthew Tucker, so that needs to be taken into consideration. 

    Through two games, he's averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Against Tennessee Tech in week two, Wesley played only limited minutes and still rushed for 85 yards off 11 carries. 

    Give him the touches some of the premier backs are getting, and Wesley's numbers would be as impressive as anyone's. 

     

15. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois

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    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 227 / AVG: 6.5 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 3 / AVG: 3.0 / TD: 0

    Leshoure doesn't get enough credit as a rusher, but that's about to change based on the way he's opened the 2010 season. 

    Right now he's on pace for over 1,300 yards and a dozen touchdowns, and it's not unreasonable at all to expect him to reach those totals. 

    He rushed for 112 yards against Missouri in the opener and followed that up with a 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Southern Illinois. 

14. Andre Ellington, Clemson

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    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 133 / AVG: 8.9 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 3 / AVG: 3.0 / TD: 0

    Ellington will have a tough job proving to the country that he's good enough to carry the load for the Tigers, considering he's following in C.J. Spiller's footsteps.

    He started the season with a bang against North Texas, carrying 12 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns, but didn't get the chance to play much in Clemson's 58-28 blowout win over Presbyterian.  

    Ellington had only 11 yards off three carries, but we won't fault him for his numbers in a game in which he wasn't needed.  

13. Montel Harris, Boston College

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 195 / AVG: 4.1 / TD: 1 / Receiving Yards: 31 / AVG: 10.3 / TD: 0

    After a solid showing in Boston College's week one victory over Weber State, Harris looked a little sluggish in the Eagles win over Kent State. 

    Harris rushed for 80 yards on 29 attempts, but failed to find the end zone. 

    For someone who finished last season as a top-10 back, more was expected of Harris in this one. He'll have the chance to rebound against Virginia Tech on Sept. 25. 

12. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 75 / ATT: 18 / AVG: 4.2 / TD: 1  / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0.0 / TD: 0

    Rodgers was out of action in week two, and since his performance in the season opener wasn't overly impressive, his absence gave some other backs the chance to pass him in the rankings. 

    Rodgers was held to 75 yards on 18 carries as the Horned Frogs focused on shutting him down in TCU's 30-21 victory over Oregon State.

    He'll have the chance to redeem himself against Louisville on Saturday, and there's a good chance he'll go off in a big way in that contest. 

11. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 131 / AVG: 3.3 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 53 / AVG: 13.3 / TD: 1

    It was one thing for Williams to be held to 68 total yards against Boise State. That's one of the best teams in the country, and he still managed to find the end zone three times.

    It's an entirely different thing when Williams fails to find the end zone against James Madison in one of the most embarrassing losses in Hokies history. 

    He rushed the ball 20 times for 91 yards and added two catches for another 35 yards, but that wasn't nearly what we expected coming into the game. Something is wrong with this Virginia Tech team and they better figure it out in a hurry. 

     

10. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 102 / AVG: 2.9 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 61 / AVG: 10.2 / TD: 0

    Lewis has gotten off to a very sluggish start in 2010 after dominating his opposition last season. 

    We're talking about a player who rushed for almost 1,800 yards in 2009, yet is on pace to barely break 600 yards through the first two weeks of 2010. 

    Granted, he's going to get on track at some point, but unless he cracks 100 total yards in a game for the first time this season against Miami, he could really start tumbling down the rankings.

9. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 236 / AVG: 4.6 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 37 / AVG: 12.3 / TD: 0

    The No. 1 running back from the 2010 recruiting class is taking the country by storm through the first couple weeks of the season. 

    After Lattimore's decent outing in week one, we gave him the No. 25 spot on the list, but there's no keeping him out of the top 10 after the pounding he put on Georgia in a very tough SEC matchup. 

    Lattimore carried the ball 37 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns, adding a 16-yard catch as well. He was pivotal in the Gamecocks' 17-6 victory. It looks like we have ourselves the nation's next star running back. 

8. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 259 / AVG: 5.1 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 52 / AVG: 13.0 / TD: 0

    Against Florida State, Murray didn't give the same kind of performance that he delivered against Utah State the week before. 

    After putting up over 200 rushing yards in the season opener, Murray was held to just 51 yards rushing off 16 carries, but he still managed to find the end zone twice. 

    Add in four catches for 52 yards and you have yourself a pretty productive day for the Sooners' top back. Considering this was a game Oklahoma dominated through the air, you can't ask for too much more from Murray. 

     

7. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 414 / AVG: 8.4 / TD: 6 / Receiving Yards: 11 / AVG: 1.4 / TD: 0

    The competition hasn't been too tough, with matchups against Washington State and Troy, but that doesn't take away from what Hunter has accomplished so far this season.

    No other running back has rushed for more yards through two weeks, with only Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson ahead of Hunter at this point. 

    First it was 257 yards and four touchdowns against Washington State, then 157 yards and two touchdowns against Troy. 

6. LaMichael James, Oregon

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    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 134 / AVG: 8.4 / TD: 1 / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0.0 / TD: 0

    LaMichael James returned to the field in week two after serving a suspension in Oregon's opening weekend win over New Mexico. 

    After the way Kenjon Barner played in relief, there was a feeling that James would be forced to give up a good chunk of his carries; however, that thought may have been laid to rest after the way he played against Tennessee. 

    In his first game of the season, James had a 134 yards and a touchdown off 16 carries. Take away his 72-yard run, though, and those numbers don't shine quite the same way. 

5. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 371 / AVG: 7.6 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 15 / AVG: 7.5 / TD: 0

    Thomas is off to a great start in 2010.  If he keeps it up, he will crush his statistics from a year ago. 

    After a dominating 234-yard performance against UCLA in the season opener, Thomas looked sharp again in Kansas State's 48-24 win over Missouri State.

    He had 21 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns. We're only a couple weeks away from his matchup with Nebraska, and that's the one we're all waiting for. 

4. John Clay, Wisconsin

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 260 / AVG: 6.5 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0.0 / TD: 0

    Clay proved himself to be one of the top backs in the country last year, and he's on his way to equaling those numbers in 2010. 

    He's rushed for over 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns in each of his first two games. While UNLV and San Jose State aren't the best measures of talent, the results are still good. 

    The season gets much tougher in October, and that's when we can really see just how good Clay is. 

3. Trent Richardson, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 210 / AVG: 6.6 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 92 / AVG: 13.1 / TD: 0

    After putting up over 100 total yards against San Jose State in the season opener, Richardson shredded Penn State's defense in a decisive victory for Alabama.

    Having Mark Ingram out left a lot more touches for Richardson, and he showed once again just how good he can be when he's getting the lion's share. 

    Richardson rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown off 22 carries, and added another 46 yards receiving off four catches. 

2. Noel Devine, West Virginia

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    2010 Stats: Rushing Yards: 223 / AVG: 4.8 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 80 / AVG: 6.7 / TD: 0

    Devine was a crucial part of West Virginia's comeback victory over Marshall on Friday. Simply put, without him, they lose that game. 

    The senior will make his claim throughout the year as the nation's top running back, and right now he's as much a part of the discussion as anyone. 

    Devine followed up his 100-yard performance against Coastal Carolina with 174 total yards and a touchdown against Marshall in the Mountaineers' 24-21 win. 

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

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    Dave Martin/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: NA

    The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Ingram is one of the best players in the country and a force to be reckoned with at running back.

    There's a good reason he won the Heisman a year ago, and there's no reason at all to think he won't be a serious part of the discussion again this season.

    He's out with a knee injury right now and it's too soon to tell when he'll be back in action, but that's no reason to bump him out of the top spot he earned with last year's performance. 

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