Ranking the Big Ten: Running back
Many questions remain for what the 2020 college football season will look like, but that doesn't mean we still can't evaluate some of the top players to watch in the Big Ten Conference.
We continue our annual Ranking the Big Ten series today with the running backs, a group of relatively new names ready to make their mark.
1. Master Teague, Ohio State
The long line of elite Ohio State running backs will pick up right where it left off with Teague taking the reins as the No.1 this season.
Despite backing up first-team All-Big Ten selection J.K. Dobbins in 2019, Teague still managed to rack up 739 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
He was a consensus third-team all-conference pick, and now returns as one of the league's marquee backfield pieces.
If the success of his predecessors is any indication, Teague should have every opportunity to put up a ton of numbers, take home plenty of accolades, and bolster his NFL Draft stock in a major way in 2020.
2. Stevie Scott III, Indiana
Indiana's offense has a wealth of playmakers this season, and the imposing Scott might be the Hoosiers' best all-around weapon.
The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder rushed for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns last year while losing just 17 yards. He also caught 26 passes for 211 yards and another TD, giving him a team-high 96.0 all-purpose yards per game.
Scott ended last year ranked in the conference's top 10 in rushing yards (4th), carries (5th, 178), rushing touchdowns (T-5th), total touchdowns (11, T-6th), and all-purpose yards (10th) despite missing the final two games due to injury.
He was a consensus second-team All-Big Ten selection for his efforts, and he'll have every opportunity to build onto that this season.
3. Journey Brown, Penn State
Like Ohio State, Penn State has developed quite the pipeline of NFL running backs over the past few years, and Brown is primed to be the latest addition to that list.
After beating out former five-star Ricky Slade (who transferred this offseason) for the starting job in 2019, Brown racked up 890 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
It was his homerun ability that stood out as much as anything else, as he posted eight runs of 30 yards or longer, ranking 12th nationally.
Brown also seemed to get better with every game he played, finishing the season with five straight 100-yard efforts and setting a school bowl game record with a career-high 202 yards and two touchdowns vs. Memphis in the Cotton Bowl.
4. Zach Charbonnet, Michigan
When it came to finding the end zone, no Michigan freshman running back has ever been better than Charbonnet.
In his first season as a Wolverine, Charbonnet tallied 726 yards and set the program's freshman record with 11 rushing touchdowns. He also became the first UM freshman running back to start a season opener since 2008 and just the fourth since 1944.
Charbonnet is hardly the most dynamic back the league has to offer, but his consistent production speaks for itself. As he continues to develop in Michigan's offense, he could pile up some serious numbers before he's done in Ann Arbor.
5. Dedrick Mills, Nebraska
It took a while for Mills to find his footing at Nebraska, but by the end of last season, he emerged as one of the Huskers' most productive offensive players.
The transfer via Garden City (Kan.) C.C. via Georgia Tech posted his three best performances over NU's final three games. The highlight was his career day against Wisconsin, where he gashed the Badgers' fifth-ranked rushing defense for 188 yards on 11 yards per carry.
The next week, Mills managed 65 yards on 12 carries in just one half of work at Maryland due to an illness. He then capped off the year with a season-high 24 carries for 94 yards against an Iowa defense that ranked 22nd nationally against the run.
Mills ended up with a solid final stat line, finishing with 745 yards on 143 carries (5.2 ypc) and 10 rushing touchdowns. He became the second Husker in six years to reach the end zone 10 times in a season.