The NFL is a passing league, but an effective run game allows teams to open up their offense through play actions, options and other forms of misdirection. Teams looking to find their complimentary piece, a la Nick Chubb or Dalvin Cook, will have no shortage of options in the 2020 NFL Draft.
CBS Sports breaks down how college football‘s elite running backs fared in their respective games this weekend.
1. D’Andre Swift, Georgia: Stock Steady
Stats: 147 carries for 921 yards, seven touchdowns; 15 receptions for 172 yards, one touchdown (nine games)
Swift had 12 carries for 83 yards (6.9 yards per carry) in a 27-0 win over Missouri that Georgia really did not put away until the fourth quarter. As special as the Philadelphia native is as a player, the Bulldogs have a stable of gifted players at the position, and the other running backs snaked 23 carries. His longest run of the day was 47 yards; more than half of his yardage on the day.
In his prior five games, Swift had been the workhorse for the SEC East program, averaging 20.8 carries per game.
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2. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: Stock Up
Stats: 208 carries for 1,259 yards, 15 touchdowns; 18 receptions for 151 yards, four touchdowns (nine games)
The Badgers were looking to end their losing streak at two games, and they needed each of Taylor’s 31 carries to secure victory over Iowa. He amassed 250 rushing yards (8.1 yards per carry), which was the first time that the Hawkeyes had allowed a 250-yard rusher since at least 2000. His receiving production has taken a nose dive in the past three weeks though. A 42-yard run, his longest of the day, helped Wisconsin run out the clock. His second longest run of the day (32 yards) occurred on the prior drive, which set up a field goal to push their lead to eight.
The New Jersey native has had at least 16 carries in each of his team’s nine games.
3. Travis Etienne, Clemson: Stock Up
Stats: 137 carries for 1,214 yards, 13 touchdowns; 22 receptions for 215 yards, two touchdowns (10 games)
Clemson has not been in a game decided by fewer than 30 points since September, and Etienne has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of those blowouts. In his latest output, the Louisiana native had 14 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns as well as three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown.
The running back became the school’s all-time career touchdown record holder with an inside shovel pass late in the first quarter. Roughly two minutes later, Etienne scored his second touchdown of the game on a 19-yard run. His third touchdown was an eight-yard carry on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half. He exited the game after that score.
Stats: 137 carries for 828 yards, 11 touchdowns; 13 receptions for 215 yards, one touchdown (eight games)
Moss and the Utes were off this week. When healthy, he is one of the best college running back prospects in the nation. He has been effective in the run game but even more so as a pass catcher.
5. Cam Akers, Florida State: Stock Steady
Stats: 214 carries for 1,042 yards, 13 touchdowns; 28 receptions for 223 yards, four touchdowns (10 games)
Akers has had at least 15 carries in every game except one this season. In Saturday’s win against Boston College, he recorded 18 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown as well as four receptions for 49 yards. His longest carry of the day went for 13 yards. Florida State’s offensive line has inhibited the success of their skill players this season.
The Mississippi native still shows elite athletic traits but it would behoove him to not fumble anymore this season. He has already lost three.
6. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Stock Steady
Stats: 166 carries for 1,200 yards, 11 touchdowns; 14 receptions for 140 yards, two touchdowns (10 games)
The Buckeyes cruised to victory against Maryland, not needing much from Dobbins, who finished with 12 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns as well as a reception for eight yards. Ohio State scored on each of their full possessions in the first half. Dobbins scored on the final two with runs from 7 and 20 yards, respectively. The second was a rush outside that the Texas native cut back inside.
He has recorded a rushing touchdown in every game with the exception of one. In the meantime, he has climbed the program’s all-time career rushing leaderboard. In his latest performance, he surpassed Tim Spencer for fourth all-time. Next: Eddie George.
7. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State: Stock Steady
Stats: 236 carries for 1,604 yards, 18 touchdowns; nine receptions for 40 yards (nine games)
Hubbard and the Cowboys were off this week. In the team’s remaining games, he needs to show his ability as a pass catcher in order to join the elite tier of running back prospects.
8. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt: Stock Down
Stats: 166 carries for 818 yards, six touchdowns; 24 receptions for 248 yards, one touchdown (nine games)
The Nashville native had 15 carries for 28 yards as well as a reception for 14 yards in a demolition at the hands of Florida. His longest run of the day was 13 yards, which means that he averaged roughly one yard per carry on the others. The Commodores next play Kentucky.
9. Trey Sermon, Oklahoma: Stock Down
Stats: 54 carries for 385 yards, four touchdowns; eight receptions for 71 yards, one touchdown (nine games)
Sermon’s lack of involvement has been a popular talking point in this series over the past month. It did not improve in Saturday’s win over Iowa State, as he had 14 rushing yards on a single carry. The Georgia native is averaging just 6.7 touches per game in games against Power 5 opponents.
10. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State: Stock Down
Stats: 173 carries for 731 yards, seven touchdowns; 29 receptions for 252 yards, two touchdowns (eight games)
Over the past two games against UCLA and USC, Benjamin has recorded 98 yards on 33 carries (2.9 yards per carry). He contributed 48 receiving yards on seven receptions in the loss to the Trojans. The largest issue for the Texas native has been his fumbling tendencies, as the running back has lost two of his three fumbles in the past two games.
Benjamin had 20 carries for 52 yards in addition to the aforementioned receptions in the latest loss to USC.