Doak Walker Award rankings: Gurley tumbles, Big Ten dominant
One week ago, Georgia RB Todd Gurley held a stronghold on the most prestigious running back award in college football.
By Friday, he faced an indefinite suspension while Nick Chubb got more touches than Gurley ever dreamed. If the NCAA clears Gurley to play by Saturday, he’s still got a chance to work his way back to the top of the field. But his lead over Melvin Gordon and others already was marginal, and that was before Gordon’s huge game Saturday.
If Gurley misses another game, he’s got no shot to even finish the season as a finalist — not to mention the element of the Doak Walker Award that requires voters to consider candidates as off-field citizens.
With Alex Collins also face-planting (see below), Leonard Fournette and Mike Davis just now hitting their stride, T.J. Yeldon doing little and Cameron Artis-Payne not producing at Tre Mason levels, the SEC isn’t quite as dominant as running back as many of us thought.
Instead, the Big Ten features an intimidating lineup of backs, including Wisconsin’s Gordon and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, both of whom are on pace to run for more than 2,000 yards. That’s not even including Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, who has more than 1,000 total yards of offense and 12 touchdowns.
Gurley still leads the SEC in rushing, but it appears that Mississippi State’s Josh Robinson, Artis-Payne and Collins will duke it out for this year’s rushing title. After this week, there could be just one SEC back in the Top 10 of our national rankings.
SEC RBs STRUGGLE
Saturday was one of the weakest performances by SEC running backs all year. Granted, South Carolina’s Mike Davis (bye) and Georgia’s Todd Gurley (suspension) didn’t play. But only three SEC running backs reached the 100-yard benchmark.
- LSU true freshman RB Leonard Fournette ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Florida after just 38 and 42 rushing yards in his previous SEC games.
- Kentucky true freshman RB Stanley “Boom” Williams rushed seven times for 104 yards.
- Georgia RB Nick Chubb rushed for 143 yards on 38 carries. In other news, the Bulldogs training staff is inundated with requests for bags of ice.
Arkansas super duo Jonathan Williams (83) and Alex Collins (13) didn’t even combine for 100 rushing yards against Alabama despite the Tide’s own offensive struggles.
Quarterbacks Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott both rushed for at least 100 yards.
Here are my weekly Top 10 rankings for the Doak Walker Award.
|1. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin||Gordon ran for 175 yards and four touchdowns against Illinois, topping 1,000 rushing yards for the season.||2|
|2. Duke Johnson, Miami||Johnson has been the most consistent back and is one of the best backfield receiving threats. Recovering from a broken ankle, he’s gained 165, 152 and 178 yards of total offense the last three games.||4|
|3. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska||Abdullah and Nebraska took Saturday off while recovering from one of the worst performances of the running back’s career.||3|
|4. Tevin Coleman, Indiana||The nation’s leading rusher has 1,194 yards of total offense this season. His rushing totals this year: 247, 190, 132, 122, 150 and 219. He has a great personal story, too.||7|
|5. James Conner, Pitt||The Panthers also had a bye. After a brilliant start, Conner has faded to the point that his numbers are eerily similar to last season.||5|
|6. Josh Robinson, Mississippi State||He produced 134 yards of offense and two touchdowns after Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told ESPN “We’ve seen better ones (running backs).”||8|
|7. Todd Gurley, Georgia||Gurley should drop out of the Top 10 assuming he misses at least one more game due to suspension, but he was playing so well that if he returned now he’d still have a great chance at top five.||1|
|8. Anthone Taylor, Buffalo||Taylor moved to third in the nation in rushing yards (behind Coleman and Gordon) with 128 in a loss at Eastern Michigan.||9|
|9. Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan||A two-star prospect planted squarely in Big Ten country, Franklin only drew interest from MAC schools. Now he has 15 rushing touchdowns and 843 yards as a freshman.||—|
|10. D.J. Foster, Arizona State||The Sun Devils did not play this week.||10|
Dropped Out: Alex Collins, Arkansas (No. 6).
Collins ran six times for 13 yards and missed the first quarter due to suspension against Alabama. With such a stacked group of running backs this year, that’s not enough to retain a Top 10 spot.