Ranking the SEC’s top 10 running backs of the BCS era


Related BCS Ranking:

Running backs are one of the most glorified positions in football. Specifically, the SEC has had some bullies at the position, pushing through defenders and racking up yards after contact.

We’re witnessing two of the best in SEC history already with Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s TJ Yeldon. We need more sample size from each before they make this list, but there’s no denying they’re well on their way.

Related: Ranking the 2013 SEC running backs

Here are the 10-best SEC running backs of the BCS era:

1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas (2005-07)
Rush stats: 785 carries, 4,590 yds, 41 TDs
Receiving stats: 31 catches, 304 yds
Skinny: Many say Adrian Peterson and Ricky Williams are the two best BCS running backs, but I’m not afraid to throw McFadden’s name among the duo. Run DMC’s talent-packed physique was something rare. He was a consensus All-American in 2006-07. McFadden still holds the SEC’s second highest rushing total for one season in 2007 with 1,830 yards, behind Herschel Walker, and he also totes the second most rushing yards in a career with 4,590.

2. Trent Richardson, Alabama (2009-11)
Rush stats: 540 carries, 3,130 yds, 35 TDs
Receiving stats: 68 catches, 730 yds, 7 TD
Skinny: Richardson ran around terrorizing the SEC for three short seasons, with tree trunk legs and a short, compact physique running backs dream about. Richardson still is the only SEC running back to rush for 20 touchdowns in one season, and imagine if he’d received more touches in three years? He largely split time with Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy, a staple of the Bama offense.

3. Shaun Alexander, Alabama (1996-99)
Rush stats: 727 carries, 3,565 yds, 41 TDs
Receiving stats: 62 catches, 798 yds, 8 TDs
Skinny: Does this come at a surprise? Don’t let it. Alexander is argued by some as Alabama’s best back ever, and he was a big-time player in his day, with his last two seasons coming in the BCS era. Still the all-time leading rusher in Bama history, Alexander put together a great senior campaign that ultimately fell short of the Heisman because of an ankle injury. He was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in ’99.

4. Cadillac Williams, Auburn (2001-04)
Rush stats: 741 carries, 3,831 yds, 45 TDs
Receiving stats: 45 catches, 342 yds, TD
Skinny: If we’re ranking names, Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams tops the list, but his game wasn’t too bad either. Williams still stands second in Auburn history only to Bo Jackson in career rushing yardage, and he still holds the record for the most touchdowns scored. Williams seemed like he was either injured or always sharing the spotlight with Ronnie Brown, and he helped Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004.

5. Mark Ingram, Alabama (2008-10)
Rush stats: 572 carries, 3,261 yds, 42 TDs
Receiving stats: 60 catches, 670 yds, 4 TDs
Skinny: Alabama’s only Heisman winning back barely cracks the top five? I’ll catch flack for this one. Ingram was good, but he wasn’t better than Richardson or Alexander. Ingram’s Heisman season was his only 1,000-yard season, and he finished with 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns. Still, Ingram helped Alabama win the 2009 national championship. He’s a great player and certainly top-five worthy.

6. Kevin Faulk, LSU (1995-98)
Rush stats: 856 carries., 4,557 yds, 46 TDs
Receiving stats: 53 catches, 600 yds, 4 TDs
Skinny: Faulk caught the tail end of the BCS in the ‘98 season. Faulk holds LSU’s career rushing record with 4,557 yards, along with his 46 total touchdown record, good for third most in SEC history. Faulk probably had the best NFL career of anyone on this list, and that’s quite the complement. You could certainly justify ranking Faulk in the top five.

7. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (2010-12)
Rush stats: 555 carries, 2,677 yds, 38 TDs
Receiving stats: 74 catches, 767 yds, 3 TD
Skinny: Had Lattimore stayed healthy his entire career, we’d be talking about a much higher ranking. He emerged on the scene as a true freshman, rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. His next two years were cut short due to injury, but pound for pound, Latimore’s talent was top five worthy. He holds Carolina’s rushing record with 38 touchdowns and totals the most receptions (74) of any back on the list.

8. Ronnie Brown, Auburn (2001-04)
Rush stats: 513 carries, 2,707 yds, 29 TDs
Receiving stats: 58 catches, 668 yds, 2 TDs
Skinny: Brown doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He played second fiddle to one Cadillac Williams, and he’s one of the more underrated backs in the BCS era. Brown ranks eighth in Auburn history with 2,707 yards and fifth with 29 touchdowns.

9. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (2007-08)
Rush stats: 498 carries, 2,734 yds, 30 TDs
Receiving stats: 53 catches, 645 yds, 2 TDs
Skinny: I can still see Moreno sprinting back to the offensive huddle after being tackled, a staple in his game. Moreno only played two seasons at Georgia, but he was electric with the ball in his hands and still remains fourth in UGA history with 2,734 rushing yards and fifth with 30 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-SEC pick and a second-team All-American in ‘08.

10. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State (2006-09)
Rush stats: 910 carries, 3,994 yds, 42 TDs
Receiving stats: 56 catches, 449 yds, 4 TDs
Skinny: The forgotten Iron Man of the BCS era, Anthony Dixon. Dixon still ranks seventh in rushing touchdowns and eighth in total rushing yards in SEC history. Dixon was considered one of the best power backs available in the 2010 NFL Draft, and aside from Kevin Faulk and Darren McFadden, Dixon finished his career with the SEC’s most rushing yards in the BCS era.

Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE



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  • Solid list, I think that Travis Henry and Felix Jones could make the top 12 as well.

  • How in the world is Anthony Dixon on there, and Deuce McAllister isn’t?

    • Because Dixon played a tougher slate of opponents had better stats was THE offense while at state. Deuce was a good back BUT setting rushing records at Ole Miss or any school for that matter doesn’t automatically place you as one of the most elite. If that we’re the case Dixon would still be on this list and Zac Stacy would be ahead of Duece as well. (Which I would probably still do if I were having to choose between the two)

      Bottom line try to be a little less bias

      Oh and compare these stats to Dixon’s above.
      Duece McAllister career: carries (616), yards (3,060), rushing TDs (36), total touchdowns (41)

      And before you argue Duece touched the ball less refer back to the previous comment of Dixon was the offense Ole Miss was more balanced. Dixon probably faced more 8 men in the box than Herschel Walker. And still produced.

      • Yeah… “faced eight more men”. That’s a logical statement.

        • No not when you end the statement in the wrong place like a logical person would do. ‘Putting eight men in the box’ is a method geared to stop the run and is used excessively against those that do not have a reliable passing attack.

  • I would take Trent over any back, period… you say “homer” I say “Simpson”.

  • The way I look at it, Trent Richardson had 7 Less TDs than Darren McFadden, but McFadden had 245 more carries then Richardson. 245!!!! And he was sharing with Ingram and Lacy for 3 Seasons!!!!!! McFadden had phenomenal feats with his rushing yards and TDs, but he wasn’t sharing near as many snaps like Richardson. Take Lacy out of the mix and Richardson would be #1 on this list, hands down. Roll tide.

    • Excuse me, 6. Alabama math haha.

    • Oh so you must be forgetting about Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis…. Lets also throw in that Mcfadden also had 10 other TD with 7 of them passing….Go ahead with your comeback homer…

      • Yeah, but McFadden didn’t share carries like Richardson. It shows in the #’s. The fact that Richardson only had 6 less TD’s with 245 less carries is crazy.

        • Wrong wrong wrong. Alabama logic. Guys, you know it is possible to calculate a stat on your own, right? This page is missing YPC, which of course is critical here, and comes out at 5.85 for McFadden and 5.80 for Richardson. Both players played 3 years. To me that says McFadden got about 50% more carries per game, which means he was carrying the load on offense, which means the defense knew he was coming. To me that’s much more impressive, to carry the ball about 22 times per game and average 5.85 YPC, versus carrying the ball 15 times per game and average 5.80 YPC.

    • Um, Run DMC was sharing the rock with 2 other NFL backs also. Richardson is a stud running back, but DMC is good at everything. I’d take DMC all day every day.

  • Lets not forget Kevin Faulk also was a return man. Faulk was one of the best kick returners in LSU’s history with 832 yards and 2 touchdowns on punt returns and 884 yards and 1 touchdown on kickoff returns.

  • I think this is a pretty solid list. Crazy how many great college backs have been in the SEC just in that amount of time.

  • I’ll just assume you for got about Deuce McAlister: 616 carries for 3,060 yds. & 36 TD’s. 68 receptions for 726 yds. & 4 TD’s. Also, 4 more kickoff or punt return TD’s. Pretty solid.

    All of the above are great. You could do a top 25 RB list, and #’s 6-25 would be interchangeable!

  • Was Garrison Hearst pre-BCS?

  • Also left of Kenneth Darby , which if it wasn’t for an injury plagued Senior year would have Broke Shaun Alexander. I think you did the same thing here as you did on qbs. Its more of potential and physical Attributes than actual Stats. But overall I would say good list

  • Though Richardson would probably get my nod over Ingram, I can’t really understand the logic behind inflating Richardson’s potential yards by pointing out that he had to split carries, then pointing out Ingram’s yards and knocking him for it.

    After all, didn’t he have to split carries with Coffee and Richardson?

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