College Football 2011: Running Back Report Card for the Top 50 Teams

Connor Killoren@@Connor_KillorenSenior Analyst IJune 13, 2011

College Football 2011: Running Back Report Card for the Top 50 Teams

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs down field against the Auburn Tigers during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christia
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    It's that time of year again!

    Time for report cards on each position.

    We'll start off with running backs.

    There are many great ones to keep an eye on this season including Heisman Trophy hopeful LaMichael James and the great Wisconsin duo of Montee Ball and James White.

    Follow along as we hand out running back grades for the nation's top 50 teams.

    (Top 50 rankings courtesy of Athlon Sports College Football Preview magazine)

1. Alabama

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    KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 23:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after running for a touchdown during the SEC game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyon
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Trent Richardson returns after coming off a 2010 season that saw him rush for 700 yards and six touchdowns.

    Eddie Lacy should be a reliable backup.

    Grade: A

2. Oklahoma

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    COLUMBIA, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 23: Roy Finch #22 of the Oklahoma Sooners rushes against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Bob Stoops' Sooner attack will be using a committee approach at running back.

    Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, Jonathan Miller and true freshman Brandon Williams will all get snaps in 2011.

    Grade: A-

3. Oregon

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs down field against the Auburn Tigers during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald M
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Athlon Sports' college football preview mag ranks Oregon's running back unit as the best in the nation heading into this season.

    The unit will be led by Heisman favorite LaMichael James.

    Kenjon Barner will be a solid backup after rushing for 551 yards last season.

    Grade: A

4. Florida State

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Chris Thompson #23 of the Florida State Seminoles is tackled by Travian Robertson #42 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Seminoles return all five running backs from a year ago.

    The group is led by returning leading rusher Chris Thompson and senior Jermaine Thomas.

    Grade: B+

5. Boise State

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Doug Martin #22 of the Boise State Broncos runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the Utah Utes during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The Bronco rushing attack will be bolstered by returning starter Doug Martin.

    D.J. Harper will give him a breather every now and again.

    Grade: B

6. Notre Dame

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    EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30:  Running back Cierre Wood #20 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes during the Hyundai Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Notre Dame's rushing attack will be led by Cierre Wood who came on strong at the end of last season.

    However, a lack of depth at the position may come back to bite the Irish.

    Grade: B

7. Virginia Tech

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Running back David Wilson #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Lane Stadium on November 4, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty I
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    The Hokies will miss Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, who both left early for the NFL.

    David Wilson will be the starter after rushing for 619 yards and five touchdowns on 113 carries last season.

    Grade: B

8. LSU

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Spencer Ware #16 of the Louisiana State University Tigers scores a touchdown during the game against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers de
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Last year's leading rusher Stevan Ridley is gone and now it is up to Spencer Ware to lead the ground game.

    Ware impressed in the spring game, rushing for 94 yards and two scores.

    Grade: B-

9. Ohio State

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Dan Herron #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    With the stunning departure of Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes will surely rely more on the ground game.

    However, that will be difficult for the first five games of the season, as the Buckeyes' top lineman and back are suspended for that span.

    Jordan Hall will start the first five games in Dan Herron's absence.

    Grade: B

10. Nebraska

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    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 26: Rex Burkhead #22 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers runs the ball during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Colorado 45-17 (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Rex Burkhead will be the starter at running back in the Huskers' revamped offensive attack that will emphasize a physical running game.

    A talented group of freshmen will compete for second-string snaps.

    Grade: B

11. Texas A&M

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    COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Tailback Cyrus Gray #32 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tripped up by a Texas Longhorns defender in the second half at Kyle Field on November 26, 2009 in College Station, Texas. The Longhorns defeated the Aggies 49-39. (Photo
    Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images

    Cyrus Gray is back after rushing for 1,133 yards and 12 scores in 2010.

    He should accomplish even more this season behind an offensive line that remains intact.

    Grade: A

12. Oklahoma State

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    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 20: Jeremy Smith #31 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys is congratulated by Jonathan Rush #70 after a touchdown during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 20, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie S
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Cowboys will miss All-American back Kendall Hunter, but running production won't drop off too much.

    The talented duo of Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith will fill Hunter's shoes.

    Grade: B+

13. Stanford

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinal runs the ball against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Cardinal rushing attack will benefit from the return of Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 1,137 yards and 15 scores last season.

    Jeremy Stewart will get carries when filling in for Taylor.

    Grade: A

14. Georgia

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    The Bulldogs will rely on true freshman Isaiah Crowell to lead the running game.

    Crowell was rated as a 5-star prospect by Rivals.com.

    Grade: B

15. TCU

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 6: Ed Wesley #34 of the TCU Horned Frogs cuts back during a game against the Utah Utes during the first half of an NCAA football game November 6, 2010 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Gett
    George Frey/Getty Images

    Ed Wesley will anchor the running game in an offense that returns only one other starter aside from Wesley.

    2010 saw him rush for 1,078 yards and 11 scores on 166 carries last season.

    Matthew Tucker will be Wesley's backup.

    Grade: A-

16. Arkansas

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Knile Davis #7 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Bobby Petrino's Razorback squad will benefit from the return of Knile Davis, who led SEC running backs with 1,322 yards last season.

    Ronnie Wingo will be a reliable backup.

    Grade: A

17. West Virginia

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    The Mountaineers will miss Noel Devine at running back, but will be just fine with Shawne Alston as the new starter.

    Daquan Hargrett will challenge him for starting duties.

    Grade: B

18. Florida

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9:  Running back Chris Rainey #3 of the Florida Gators runs upfield during the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    The Gators have two very talented backs returning this season in seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

    It remains to be seen how effective each can be behind a retooled offensive line and in a new scheme under coordinator Charlie Weis

    Grade: A-

19. Miami

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    MIAMI - NOVEMBER 20:  Lamar Miller #6 of the Miami Hurricanes runs for a touchdown during a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The 'Canes will benefit from having two of the ACC's fastest players in running backs Lamar Miller and Storm Johnson.

    Miller rushed for 646 yards and six scores on 108 carries last season.

    Grade: B+

20. USC

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Marc Tyler #26 of the USC Trojans celebrates his touchdown against the Oregon Ducks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    USC and head coach Lane Kiffin need the running backs to be consistent this season to take the pressure off quarterback Matt Barkley and the passing game.

    Marc Tyler and touted freshman D.J. Morgan should provide for a solid rushing attack.

    Grade: A-

21. South Carolina

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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 4:  Running back Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball during the 2010 SEC Championship against the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty I
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks feature one of the nation's best running backs in Marcus Lattimore.

    Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 scores on 249 carries.

    Kenny Miles will back up Lattimore.

    Grade: A

22. Michigan State

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Running back Edwin Baker #4 of the Michigan State Spartans carries the ball during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on November 27, 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Spartans won 28-22.(
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Mark Dantonio's MSU squad returns the Big Ten's leading returning rusher in Edwin Baker.

    Baker rushed for 1,201 yards and 13 scores on 207 carries last season.

    He and sophomore Le'Veon Bell form one of the nation's best running back duos.

    Grade: A

23. Wisconsin

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    ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 20:  James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks for running room while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wisconson won the game 48-28.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Ge
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The nation's best running back duo features Montee Ball and James White for Brett Bielema's Wisconsin Badgers.

    White is the Badgers' leading returning rusher, gaining 1,052 yards and 14 scores on 156 carries last season.

    Ball and White will each likely eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season.

    Grade: A+

24. Texas

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    WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 14:  Running back Fozzy Whittaker #28 of the Texas Longhorns carries the ball in the first half against the Baylor Bears on November 14, 2009 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.   The Longhorns beat the Bears 47-14.  (Photo by Tom P
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The Longhorns will feature fifth-year running back Fozzy Whittaker in a revamped offense under co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite.

    Cody Johnson is another fifth-year senior who rushed for 592 yards and six scores on 134 carries in 2010.

    Freshman Malcolm Brown, one of the nation's top recruits, will push each for playing time.

    Grade: B+

25. Missouri

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 4: De'Vion Moore #26 of the University of Missouri Tigers looks to get past Ian Thomas #38 of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini during the State Farm Arch Rivalry game on September 4, 2010 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Lou
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Gary Pinkel's offense will feature a committee approach at running back.

    That committee will be led by senior De'Vion Moore who rushed for 517 yards and eight scores on 99 carries last season.

    The other backs who will play are Henry Josey (437 yards) and Kendial Lawrence (422 yards).

    Grade: B+

26. Iowa

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    IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Marcus Coker #34 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes drives the ball past linebacker Ross Homan #51 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second half of play at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, I
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Marcus Coker will lead the Hawkeye rushing attack this season after rushing for 219 yards in last season's victory over Missouri in the Insight Bowl.

    Freshman De'Andre Johnson will be Coker's backup.

    Coker will be a 1,000-yard rusher in the grind-it-out offensive scheme.

    Grade: A-

27. Mississippi State

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Running back Vick Ballard #28  of the Mississippi State Bulldogs rushes upfield against the Alabama Crimson Tide November 13, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Mississippi State's ground attack will be led by senior running back Vick Ballard, who had a school-record 20 touchdowns last season.

    LaDarius Perkins will split time with Ballard this season.

    Grade: A-

28. Arizona State

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Runningback Cameron Marshall #26 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs with the football during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 30-29 in do
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Sun Devil offense lost some critical parts over the offseason, which means it will rely heavily on the rushing game this season.

    Cameron Marshall will lead that ground attack after rushing for 787 yards and nine scores on 150 carries last season.

    Deantre Lewis will also get a few snaps every game.

    Grade: B

29. Air Force

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    LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 18:  Asher Clark #17 of the Air Force Falcons runs for yardage against the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium November 18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Air Force won 35-20.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Air Force's option offense, under co-offensive coordinators Clay Hendrix and Blane Morgan, was only a few yards short of the 4,000-yard mark last season.

    Halfback Asher Clark was a key part of that potent rushing attack, amassing 1,031 yards and five scores on 182 carries.

    Clark should expect to increase those figures this season.

    Grade: A

30. Penn State

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Silas Redd #25 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Silas Redd will be the Nittany Lions starting running back after serving as Evan Royster's backup last season.

    Redd amassed 437 yards and two scores on only 77 carries last season.

    Grade: B

31. North Carolina State

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    ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 28:  Mustafa Greene #33 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack scores a touchdown during the Champs Sports Bowl against the West Virginia Mountineers at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Mustafa Greene returns after leading the Wolfpack in rushing yards last season with 597 yards.

    Brandon Barnes will also get snaps this season.

    Grade: C+

32. Illinois

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    CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Jason Ford #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jason Ford will be the starting running back for the Fighting Illini this season after serving as Mikel Leshoure's backup last season. 

    Troy Pollard will serve as the second-string back.

    Grade: C+

33. Maryland

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    BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Davin Meggett #8 of the Maryland Terrapins runs with the ball during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Image
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Terrapins will feature a physical rushing attack under first-year head coach Randy Edsall.

    Devin Meggett will be the starter after rushing for 720 yards on 126 carries last season.

    Sophomore D.J. Adams will also earn playing time in Edsall's offense.

    Grade: B

34. Brigham Young

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    SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 17:JJ Di Luigi #10 of BYU Cougars runs the ball against San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
    Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

    The Cougar rushing attack will be solid, as the team returns last season's leading rusher JJ Di Luigi who rushed for 917 yards on 178 carries.

    BYU features a two-back set that will feature Di Luigi as well as returning starter Bryan Kariya.

    Grade: A

35. South Florida

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    The South Florida offense will feature a strong running game led by Colorado transfer Darrell Scott, who was the nation's top recruit in 2007.

    Aside from Scott, Demetris Murray will earn playing time after rushing for 542 yards on 120 carries last season.

    Grade: B+

36. North Carolina

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Ryan Houston #32 of the North Carolina Tar Heels runs with the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Butch Davis' North Carolina squad will have a suspect running game this season.

    2009 starter Ryan Houston returns in 2011 after sitting out last season.

    Freshman Giovani Bernard will likely serve as Houston's backup.

    Grade: B-

37. Tennessee

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    COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Tauren Poole #28 of the Tennessee Volunteers against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Returning starter Tauren Poole will be one of the main weapons in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's offense.

    Poole was one of the SEC's most productive backs in 2010, accumulating 1,034 yards and 11 scores on 204 carries.

    Sophomore Raijon Neal will back up Poole, but needs to prove that he can be a consistent player for head coach Derek Dooley.

    Grade: B

38. Clemson

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Andre Ellington will be a key player in new offensive coordinator Chad Morris' up-tempo offense.

    Ellington should see his numbers increase in this new offense after rushing for 686 yards and 10 scores on 118 carries last year.

    Touted freshman Mike Bellamy will serve as a reliable backup.

    Grade: B+

39. Texas Tech

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    LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back Eric Stephens #24 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is tackled by Jackson Jeffcoat #44 of the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Lubbock, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Red Raiders' ground game will feature junior Eric Stephens as the starter after he rushed for 686 yards on 127 carries last season.

    Aaron Crawford should be a good second option.

    Grade: B-

40. Michigan

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    First-year head coach Brady Hoke has scrapped Rich Rod's spread option in favor of a pro-style attack.

    That means that the running backs will be much more involved in the offense.

    Stephen Hopkins and Fitzgerald Toussaint figure to share time at running back this season.

    Grade: B-

41. Pittsburgh

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 02:  Ray Graham #34 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs for a touchdown during the Big East Conference game against the Louisville Cardinals  at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 2, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Pittsburgh won
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    First-year head coach Todd Graham has installed an up-tempo read-option offense at Pitt.

    That usually means less carries for the running backs, but Graham will get talented back Ray Graham the ball this season.

    Graham rushed for 922 yards and eight scores on 148 carries this season.

    The other Graham will most likely get him over 1,000 yards this season.

    Grade: B

42. Auburn

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Michael Dyer #5 of the Auburn Tigers looks on against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Head coach Gene Chizik faces the challenge of returning a majority of his starters from a BCS championship-winning squad.

    This is the one position he won't have to worry about with the return of Michael Dyer.

    Dyer amassed 1,093 yards on 182 carries last season, including a few key runs against Oregon in the title game.

    Grade: A

43. Syracuse

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 11:  Running back Antwon Bailey #29 of the Syracuse Orange rushes against the Washington Huskies on September 11, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Orange face the challenge of replacing 2010 leading rusher Delonte Carter.

    Senior Antwon Bailey should be a suitable replacement after gaining 554 yards on 114 carries last season.

    Grade: C+

44. Washington

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    TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Runningback Chris Polk #1 of the Washington Huskies rushes the football during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 44
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The focal point of the 2011 Husky offense will be running back Chris Polk.

    He's coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and still has two years of eligibility remaining.

    Sophomore Jesse Callier will be a solid backup to Polk.

    Grade: A

45. Boston College

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    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 17: Montel Harris #2 of the Boston College Eagles carries the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on October 17, 2009 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.The Eagl
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Running back Montel Harris will be the centerpiece of the Eagle offense after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

    He has 3,600 in his career and needs only 125 more to become the school's all-time leading rusher.

    Grade: A

46. Northwestern

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Mike Trumpy #29 of the Northwestern Wildcats runs against the Michigan State Spartans at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Wildcats really need to establish a consistent running game in order to take the pressure off quarterback Dan Persa and the running game.

    The backs they've had the last four seasons have been mediocre, so the coaches and fans have been waiting for a breakout player at the position.

    Mike Trumpy will split time with Adonis Smith this season.

    Trumpy rushed for 530 yards on 116 carries last season.

    Grade: C

47. Baylor

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    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 7:  Jarred Salubi #21 of the Baylor Bears runs on the field during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Baylor faces the challenge of replacing last season's leading rusher Jay Finley.

    The candidates to fill his shoes are Jarred Salubi and Terrance Ganaway.

    Grade: C

48. Utah

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    Gone are Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, last season's leading rushers.

    Touted freshman Harvey Langi will take the load in offensive coordinator Norm Chow's offense.

    The Utes will need to have a steady run game if they want to compete in their first year in the Pac-12.

    Grade: B-

49. SMU

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    DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 30:  Defensive end Joshua McNary #44 of the Army Black Knights defends the play against Zach Line #48 of the SMU Mustangs during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on December 30, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    June Jones' Run N' Shoot offense features one running back and Zach Line has done a great job in that role.

    The junior rushed for 1,494 yards on 244 carries last season.

    Those figures should increase this season behind an experienced offensive line.

    Grade: B+

50. Georgia Tech

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04:  Running back Roddy Jones #20 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets runs with the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 4, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Head coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense is now without star running back Anthony Allen.

    It is up to Roddy Jones and Orwin Smith to fill the shoes he left behind.

    Grade: B+

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