The SEC is widely seen as the toughest conference in college football. So by definition, it should have some of the sports finest running backs. Right?
And with names like Cam Newton (yes, I know he's a quarterback, but still...), Mark Ingram, Knowshon Moreno and Darren McFadden having led the conference in rushing in the last four years, you'd be hard pressed to disagree.
Here are five running backs with the best shots at leading the mighty SEC in rushing yards this season.
What do you think?
*Stats are prior to Saturday's game at Florida
Average: 4.4 y/c
Notes: Poole has yet to put up crazy numbers to this point in 2011, but the senior rushed for 1,034 yards and 11 scores in 2010 and will lead the way out of the backfield again for the Volunteers again in 2011.
*Stats are prior to Saturday's game vs. North Texas
Average: 3.8 y/c
Notes: The lauded replacement for former Heisman winner Mark Ingram got off to a slow start this season, toting the ball just 13 times for 37 yards in the Tide's opening win over Kent State. But he heated up last week against Penn State, to the tune of 111 yards, and is primed to keep the momentum going Saturday night against North Texas.
Average: 8.3 y/c
Notes: The 5'11", 220-pound senior had two big games to kick off the season for the Bulldogs, rushing for 166 and 135 yards against Memphis and Auburn, respectively. He then struggled mightily against the stout LSU defense earlier this week, tallying just 38 yards on the ground in the 19-6 setback in Starkville.
Still, after rumbling to nearly 1,000 yards in 2010, he seems well on his way to passing that threshold this season and becoming a major factor in the race to lead the SEC in rushing.
*Stats are prior to Saturday's game vs. Navy
Average: 5.8 y/c
Notes: The Gamecocks sophomore and former South Carolina Mr. Football already has a full, solid season under his belt (he rushed for 1,197 yards as a freshman), has started 2011 with two huge games and his size—6', 231 pounds—suggests that he'll be healthy enough to stick around for the long haul.
And playing in a Steve Spurrier offense with Stephen Garcia behind center suggests that they'll be successful in moving the ball with regularity.
Average: 7.5 y/c
Notes: The Tigers lost their first game after 17 straight wins on Saturday, falling 38-24 at Clemson, but Dyer, a stocky sophomore tailback from Little Rock, continued to impress. The 5'9", 207 Dyer rushed for 151 yards—his second straight game over 150—and two more scores, serving as the major motor for the Tigers offense.