The Search For Running Back U: Part 1 - The Big 3 (Auburn, Miami, USC)

Adam SCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2009

25 Nov 1990: Running back Bo Jackson of the Los Angeles Raiders moves the ball during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Chiefs won the game, 27-24.

I'm on a journey to find the current Running Back U. Running Back U is the school that produces the best RBs and knows how to use them.

These three schools all claim the title of Running Back U. Which school, if any, deserves it? 

Do they really have the right to claim the title?

Historically, these three schools would, without debate, be the top three running programs of all time. But what about this millennium? Who cares about something that happened in the 1900s? How does that make you a better team in the 2000s?

If you claim something, make sure you still have the right to claim it.

To keep it recent, I will only use the 2000-2008 football seasons, and this includes bowl games.

I will start by comparing the team statistics in the 2000-2008 seasons.

  • Total Rushing Yards
  • Rushing Yards Per Game
  • Rushing Yards Per Carry
  • Total Number of Carries
  • Carries Per Game
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Then I will select the top 5 RBs from each school during that time frame. I will pick the best single season for each one, then average them all into one representative.

For example: 

University of Your State

  1. Bob Jacobs: 2002-2003 season
  2. William Jacobson: 2004-2005 season
  3. Jacob Williams: 2000-2001 season
  4. Will Williamson: 2006-2007 season
  5. Johnny Speedster: 2008-2009 season

Average: 1,500 yards, 400 carries.

Last, but not least, I'll look at which team produced the most NFL RBs since 2000.

I WILL find the real Running Back U!

Part 1: The Big 3

*For informational purposes:

Auburn has played 112 games since 2000.

Miami has played 110 games since 2000.

USC has played 114 games since 2000.

Q: Where did I get the stats from?

A: NCAA's official website, then I did a little math.


Total Number of Carries

Auburn: 4,519

Miami: 4,023

USC: 4,263

Winner: Auburn +1

Total Rushing Yardage

Auburn: 18,994

Miami: 17,251

USC: 19,220

Winner: USC +1

Total Rushing Touchdowns

Auburn: 211

Miami: 178

USC: 223

Winner: USC +1

Yards Per Game

Auburn: 169.59

Miami: 156.83

USC: 168.60

Winner: Auburn +1

Carries Per Game

Auburn: 40.35

Miami: 36.57

USC: 37.39

Winner: Auburn +1

Yards Per Carry

Auburn: 4.29

Miami: 4.21

USC: 4.51

Winner: USC +1

Score so far: Auburn-3, USC-3, Miami 0.

It looks like Auburn and USC are tied so far, and Miami hasn't done very well.

Top 5 RBs since 2000:

How they were chosen:

They were selected by most yards in one season, not necessarily touchdowns. The best season will be used for each player to form one RB that has the average statistics of all 5.


It shows consistency in the program, not just one standout.


  1. Rudi Johnson (2000-2001 season)
  2. Ronnie Brown (2002-2003 season)
  3. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams (2003-2004 season)
  4. Kenny Irons (2005-2006 season)
  5. Ben Tate (2007-2008 season)

Average Stats: 239.6 Carries, 1,215 Yards, 12.8 TD.


  1. James Jackson (2000-2001 season)
  2. Clinton Portis (2001-2002 season)
  3. Willis McGahee (2002-2003 season)
  4. Jarrett Payton (2003-2004 season)
  5. Frank Gore (2004-2005 season)

Average Stats: 216.4 Carries, 1177.8 Yards, 12.8 TD.


  1. Sultan McCullough (2000-2001 season)
  2. Justin Fargas (2002-2003 season)
  3. Reggie Bush (2005-2006 season)
  4. LenDale White (2005-2006 season)
  5. Chauncey Washington (2007-2008 season)

Average Stats: 196 Carries, 1177.8 Yards, 12.6 TD.

Carries: Auburn +1

Yards: Auburn +1

Touchdowns: 1/2 point to Auburn and Miami.

Score so far: Auburn-5.5, USC-3, Miami:-0.5

NFL Running Backs

Since this article begins with the 2000-01 season, the draft will start with the 2001 NFL draft, and end with the 2009 NFL draft.


1 Point per draft

+1 Point for first round

+1 Point for Pro Bowl


Heath Evans (Auburn)+1

James Jackson (Miami)+1

Rudi Johnson (Auburn)+2 (Pro Bowl)


Clinton Portis (Miami) +2 (Pro Bowl)

Najeh Davenport (Miami) +1


Willis McGahee(Miami)+3 (First Round)(Pro Bowl)

Justin Fargas(USC)+1

Malaefou MacKenzie(USC)+1



Ronnie Brown (Auburn) +3 (First Round) (Pro Bowl)

Carnell Williams (Auburn)+2 (First Round)

Frank Gore (Miami)+2 (Pro Bowl)


Reggie Bush (USC)+2 (First Round)

LenDale White (USC)+1

David Kirtman (USC)+1


Kenny Irons (Auburn)+1


Chauncey Washington (USC)+1

+9 for Auburn

+9 for Miami

+7 for USC

Final Score: 

Auburn: 14.5

Miami: 9.5

USC: 10

I tried to take every possible thing into consideration, and the winner is Auburn.

Congratulations Auburn, you are Running Back U...For now.

If you think there's something else I should add, comment me for suggestions.

Auburn beat two schools. Beating two schools doesn't make you the best Running Back University in the nation. I'm going to go through every conference to find the best running program in the nation.

The SEC is known to have strong power running teams. Next week, I'll use this same formula to see if Auburn can hold onto this title against the other 11 SEC teams.

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