College Football Power Rankings: The Top 25 Running Backs Heading Into Week 4

Michael PintoSenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2010

College Football Power Rankings: The Top 25 Running Backs Heading Into Week 4

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    There were some very impressive running back performances in Week 3, one of the most notable coming from Mark Ingram in his first action of the season. 

    For those out there that had forgotten just how good the 2009 Heisman winner can be, Ingram showcased his skills against Duke in the Crimson Tide's blowout victory. 

    Ingram wasn't the only back to have a huge game this past weekend, though. Daniel Thomas did his thing, LaMichael James joined him, and Shane Vereen had a career day. 

    On the flip side, Ryan Williams went down with an injury, Evan Royster continued to play with cement in his shoes, and the power rankings continued to shuffle. 

    Here are the top 25 running backs heading into Week 4. 

25. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 443 / AVG: 7.4 / TD: 7 / Receiving Yards: 2 / AVG: 2.0 / TD: 0

    The freshman back from San Diego State is starting to catch the nation's eye, and after the way he's played the last couple of weeks, there's no denying him a place in the top 25. 

    Hillman first got our attention in Week 2, when he rushed for 150 yards and four touchdowns against New Mexico State. But considering it was New Mexico State, we needed another sample.

    Hillman didn't disappoint, with 23 carries for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Missouri. That performance made him the sixth-leading rusher in the nation.

24. Derrick Locke, Kentucky

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 372 / AVG: 6.1 / TD: 5 / Receiving Yards: 60 / AVG: 7.5 / TD: 0

    Locke had a pretty good year in 2009, rushing for over 900 yards with another 280 yards receiving, but he's on pace to cruise past those numbers in 2010.

    Through three weeks, Locke has rushed for over 100 yards in each contest; and while Louisville, Western Kentucky and Akron aren't exactly stout defenses, the performance is still valid. 

    Locke had a 168 yards and two touchdowns in Kentucky's 47-10 win over Akron and so far has been as big a part of the team's 3-0 start as anyone. 

23. Jeffery Demps, Florida

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 310 / AVG: 6.9 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 59 / AVG: 7.4 / TD: 0

    Demps wasn't as effective in Week 3 as he'd been previously this season, as Tennessee really did a good job containing the run and limiting Demps to 2.8 yards per carry. 

    He still managed to rack up 107 total yards in the contest, though he didn't find the end zone.

    The Gators won 31-17, but the game was closer than that, and they need more from Demps going forward; he's an underestimated cog in this offense. 

22. Jordan Todman, Connecticut

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 448 / AVG: 7.3 / TD: 5 / Receiving Yards: 22 / AVG: 3.7 / TD: 0

    Todman has been really impressive through the early portion of the season and is on pace to have a monster season. 

    He's gone for over 100 yards rushing against Michigan, Texas Southern, and most recently, Temple. 

    In Connecticut's 30-16 victory over the Owls, Todman went off for 192 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. 

21. Chris Polk, Washington

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 264 / AVG: 5.0 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 9 / AVG: 4.5 / TD: 0

    Polk didn't have a very good outing against Nebraska, but no one on the Huskies' roster walked away from that one smiling. 

    Polk rushed 17 times for 55 yards and a touchdown but was never really able to get in sync, with the Cornhuskers' defense constantly harassing him throughout the game. 

    Washington has a big conference game with USC next; that's one Polk needs to rebound in. 

20. Edwin Baker, Michigan State

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards:  / AVG:  / TD:  / Receiving Yards:  / AVG:  / TD: 

    Baker was outshone by Le'Veon Bell against Notre Dame, so we might have to rethink this one in the future, but for now we'll stick to our guns and say that Baker is No. 1 in the Spartans' backfield. 

    In MSU's 34-31 win, Baker rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while Bell had 17 carries for 114 yards. 

    The two are combining to form one of the best backfields in the game right now, and if they keep it up, we might have to start including both in the top 25. 

19. Vai Taua, Nevada

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 320 / AVG: 6.2 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 36 / AVG: 12.0 / TD: 0

    Taua has played better and better as the season's progressed and had a great game against Cal in Nevada's very surprising 52-31 victory. 

    He had 22 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown, his best rushing total of the year.

    Though three games, Taua is on pace to put up very similar numbers to those he had in 2009, which had him ranked in the top 10 in rushing.  

18. Montel Harris, Boston College

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    2010 Stats

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

    Boston College was off in Week 3, so Harris will have to wait until the Eagles face Virginia Tech next week to show off his skills. 

    After a solid showing in Boston College's Week 1 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. 

17. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 444 / AVG: 6.1 / TD: 5 / Receiving Yards: 50 / AVG: 7.1 / TD: 0

    It doesn't really matter who he goes up against, Bobby Rainey is putting up big numbers. 

    He's averaging nearly 150 yards rushing and two scores a game, going up against Nebraska, Kentucky and Indiana. 

    Rainey is fifth in nation in rushing right now, and based on his upcoming schedule, it wouldn't be surprising to see him stay there. 

16. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 139 / AVG: 3.0 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards:82  / AVG: 16.4 / TD: 1

    Williams is having a rough start to the year. We considered him a top five back entering the season, but his performance so far hasn't been worthy of the top 25.

    He's on the list almost solely because of past accolades at this point. 

    After getting bottled up against Boise State and playing just decently against James Madison, Williams suffered a minor leg injury against East Carolina and left the game with eight rushing yards and one catch for 29 yard. He at least managed to find the end zone. 

15. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 333 / AVG: 4.8 / TD: 5 / Receiving Yards: 37 / AVG: 12.3 / TD: 0

    After his breakout game against Georgia, we expected Lattimore to keep on rolling, but he came back down to earth in Week 3. 

    Against Furman he had 19 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown: a good game, but not a great one. 

    He should have done better and proved it might have been a bit premature to call him a top 10 back last week. 

14. Shane Vereen, Cal

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 324 / AVG: 6.6 / TD: 6 / Receiving Yards: 55 / AVG: 9.2 / TD: 2

    Vereen had a career game against Nevada, and if not for Cal's embarrassing loss, he might have been able to actually enjoy it. 

    After a relatively quiet start to the season, Vereen exploded in Week 3 with 19 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns. 

    He and the Golden Bears will try to get back on track against Arizona; expect Vereen to have another big day. 

13. Ed Wesley, TCU

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 384 / AVG: 8.2 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 1 / AVG: 1.0 / TD: 0

    Wesley had another great game in Week 3 and now has completely put to rest the notion of a timeshare at running back between him and Matthew Tucker.

    Tucker has faded into the background while Wesley has averaged over eight yards a carry through three games. 

    Against Baylor, Wesley had 165 yards and two touchdowns. He should run wild the next few weeks. 

12. Mikel LeShoure, Illinois

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 398 / AVG: 6.9 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 9 / AVG: 4.5 / TD: 0

    LeShoure continues to prove he can be one of the most productive backs in the country, though neither of his last two opponents featured the type of run defense that you would like to measure a back's success by. 

    Against Southern Illinois a week ago and Northern Illinois on Saturday, LeShoure rushed for 106 yards and 180 yards, respectively. 

    He's got Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State next. If he runs well against those three, it might be time to start considering him a top-10 back. 

11. Andre Ellington, Clemson

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 273 / AVG: 7.4 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 51 / AVG: 10.2 / TD: 0

    Ellington looked sharp in Clemson's tough loss to Auburn this past weekend, but it wasn't enough to lead his team to victory. 

    After a real quiet game against Presbyterian in which he only took three carries, Ellington was needed for a lot more this time around. 

    He had 22 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown with another 48 yards receiving. 

10 Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh

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    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 through the first two games of 2010 is on pace to barely break 600 yards for the season. 

    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 this weekend, he could really start tumbling down the rankings.

9. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards:  / AVG:  / TD:  / Receiving Yards:  / AVG:  / TD: 

    After a couple of monster performances to open the season, Hunter looked more mundane in Week 3, failing to find the end zone after scoring six total touchdowns in his first two games.

    Granted, he only carried the ball 11 times in Oklahoma State's blowout victory over Tulsa, so you can't fault Hunter much for his lacking on the stat sheet. 

    He rushed for 59 yards and added another 29 yards receiving in the 65-28 win. 

8. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 207 / AVG: 4.9 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 22 / AVG: 4.4 / TD: 1

    Rodgers rebounded from a subpar effort against TCU on opening weekend with the type of performance we're used to seeing from the Heisman hopeful. 

    In Oregon State's 35-28 win over Louisville, Rodgers had 24 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns, with another 22 yards receiving and a third score. 

    He and the Beavers have a huge game against Boise State next in prime time on ABC. With the nation watching, he could be in line for a monster outing. 

7. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 369 / AVG: 4.8 / TD: 6 / Receiving Yards: 90 / AVG: 10.0 / TD: 1

    After a somewhat lackluster performance against FSU, Murray put up a solid showing in Week 3 as Oklahoma narrowly escaped Air Force, 27-24. 

    Murray had 26 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns, as well as five catches for 38 yards and another score. 

    He's scored at least two touchdowns in each of his first three games, and if he keeps it up, he will find the end zone over 20 times this season. 

6. LaMichael James, Oregon

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 361 / AVG: 12.0 / TD: 3 / Receiving Yards: 9 / AVG: 9.0 / TD: 0

    After sitting out the first game of the season with a suspension, James has looked as good as anyone in the country the last couple of weeks. 

    First, it was a 134 yards and a score against Tennessee; then this past weekend, James exploded for 227 yards rushing and two touchdowns off just 14 carries. 

    Alright, it was against Portland State in a 69-0 win, but when you're averaging 12 yards per carry through two games, that's impressive regardless of who you're playing. 

5. Trent Richardson, Alabama

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 271 / AVG: 6.9 / TD: 4 / Receiving Yards: 101 / AVG: 12.6 / TD: 0

    Richardson will have to take a backseat to Mark Ingram once again, now that last year's Heisman winner is healthy and back in the starting lineup. 

    But while you can expect a significant dip in production for Richardson, that doesn't make him any less talented as a rusher; he'd be the starter on almost any other team in the country. 

    Against Duke, Richardson had just seven carries but made the most of them, with 61 yards and a touchdown on the day. 

4. Noel Devine, West Virginia

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 354 / AVG: 4.8 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 89 / AVG: 6.8 / TD: 0

    Devine has been a model of consistency through the first three weeks of the season, rushing for over 100 yards every game and leading West Virginia to three straight victories. 

    He's been one of the best backs in the country, but some of the others have been even better, and for that Devine falls to No. 5.

    Against Maryland, Devine had a season-high 131 yards off 27 carries but failed to find the end zone for the first time this year. 

3. John Clay, Wisconsin

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 383 / AVG: 6.2 / TD: 5 / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0 / TD: 0

    The calls for the Heisman are growing loud in Wisconsin and figure to only grow louder as the season progresses. 

    Clay has rushed for over 100 yards in nine straight games dating back to last season, and the Badgers' big back might be the hardest tackle in the game right now. 

    Regardless of the opponent, you can pretty much chalk up Clay for 125 yards and a touchdown or two every week. 

2. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 552 / AVG: 6.7 / TD: 6 / Receiving Yards: 15 / AVG: 7.5 / TD: 0

    Thomas is on fire to start the season, and if he keeps it up, he will have one of the best years in college football history. 

    He has more yards through three weeks than any other running back in the country, averaging 184 yards a game right now. 

    It would be surprising to see him keep this pace up throughout the year, but the way Thomas is playing might force us to rethink that in a couple more weeks. 

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

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    2010 Stats

    Rushing Yards: 151 / AVG: 16.8 / TD: 2 / Receiving Yards: 0 / AVG: 0 / TD: 0

    Ingram needed just nine carries in his first game back from a knee injury to remind everyone why he won the Heisman last season. 

    In Alabama's 62-13 victory over Duke, Ingram rushed for 151 yards and two scores. 

    Sure, it was just Duke, but the way Ingram manhandled that defense made it seem like he was playing against children out there—and that's not meant to be a jab at the Blue Devils.