Debate It: 2013 Big Ten rushing yards leader?

The Big Ten is known for churning out 1,000-yard running backs. That’s still the case in 2013, with talents such as Ameer Abdullah, Carlos Hyde, Venric Mark and James White, among others, calling the Big Ten home. In recent seasons, however, quarterbacks have joined the mix, too. And that only makes predicting the rushing yards leader even more fun. See our guys’ picks for this season’s rushing yards leader in this post.

2012 leader: Montee Ball, Wisconsin – 1,830
2013 returning leader: Venric Mark, Northwestern – 1,366

Tom: James White, Wisconsin – There was a time not long ago when it was White—not Montee Ball—who looked like he was primed to be the top Badgers back. Well, Ball is gone, and the speedy White is in the spotlight.  He has been there before, rushing for 1,052 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010—more than Ball (996) that season. Last year, the 5-10, 197-pound White rushed for 806 yards and 12 scores. In between, White rushed for 713 yards and six scores in 2011. Add it all up, and White has 2,571 career yards rushing with 32 touchdowns. No other returning Big Ten back has a resume that’s more impressive.  Want more? White will work behind another strong line. The only thing that could hold him back in 2013 is if he has to share carriers with Melvin Gordon.
Dark horse: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State 

[ RELATED: View all of our preseason stat predictions ]

Brent: Venric Mark, Northwestern – At 5-8, 175 pounds, people worried about Mark’s durability last year in his debut season at running back. Week after week, though, the former athlete/returner just kept toting the rock and producing – to the tune of 1,366 yards, the most of any returning Big Ten player, and 12 touchdowns. Nowadays, those durability concerns seem laughable. Not only did Mark start all 13 games, he averaged 17.4 carries and was productive enough and fresh enough to rack up eight 100-yard efforts. So, yeah, Mark and his diminutive frame can handle the rigors of Big Ten play. Barring an injury – a concern for every player, really – Mark figures to produce even more as a senior in an experienced offense that boasts quality weapons all over the field.
Dark horse: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Here are reader tweets:


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (9 Comments)
bob jones on 6/6/2013 @ 11:06am EDT Said:

Hoping Abdullah keeps improving for Nebraska, and he should, he is a very dedicated athlete and a nice young man. Another 1,000 yard season is very likely for Ameer although there are a lot of other players he will share carries with, Taylor Martinez, Imani Cross, and a couple of spectacular incoming freshmen in Taylor and Newby who are expected to contribute right off the bat. Also, there are a couple of very good fullbacks who may see more carries this year. Along with one of the best lines and the best group of receivers in the conference, if not the whole country, this offense should be very, very good. Tough choice for top rusher, but I’ll go with the always dangerous Venric Mark, think he’ll have a whole lot of long distance runs this year.

huskerfanbb on 6/6/2013 @ 11:29am EDT Said:

Not bad guesses. However, it doesn’t always come down to who the best back is. Things like who the other backs on the roster are, what type of offense they run, if they have a dependable passing game, etc…. all play into it. Leveon Bell was in a perfect storm last year to get the rushing title–talented back, no real threats to his carries from any back-ups, a new quarterback, and a reliance on the running game.

Looking at this year’s backs, I think Ameer Abdullah will have trouble getting the title. Nebraska is deep at running back and he won’t get the carries of a bell cow back. Really, with Melvin Gordon backing him up, I don’t see James White getting that kind of carries, either.

Mark is a good pick. I also like Carlos Hyde here, depending on how much they decide to let Braxton run. If they limit Braxton’s carries to any degree, I think Hyde will be in the mix.

Another back I can see being in the hunt is Weisman from Iowa. They will be breaking in a new quarterback, so they will lean on the proven Weisman, especially early. There are a couple of other options on their roster, but I think Weisman will get the carries if he stays healthy. He could have some eye-popping numbers in the early part of the season. For the same reasons, I could see a Penn State running back in the mix, also, if they settle on one guy to get the carries and don’t do a running back by committee scenario.

    bob jones on 6/6/2013 @ 11:54am EDT Said:

    Good call on Weisman at Iowa, he’s a very good back and if Iowa really features him in their offense he could have a really big year. I was very impressed with that guy, he is a load .

Josh on 6/6/2013 @ 1:55pm EDT Said:

Whoever gets the most yardage in the B1G, it will probably be a surprise. I don’t think Venric Mark had high consideration before last season started, and neither did Touissant the season before.

K. John on 6/6/2013 @ 8:56pm EDT Said:

I am going with Carlos Hyde. He is a good player and plays in an offense suited to big numbers.

Rick Fangman on 6/7/2013 @ 1:30pm EDT Said:

The combination of Weisman & Bullock could be the real sleeper in the BIG this season.
If they stay healthy the Hawkeyes will have a punishing backfield. Another weapon will be thereturn of Canzeri. Iowa looks good at this stage. GO HAWKS!

Gary A. Thomas on 6/7/2013 @ 3:09pm EDT Said:

I have to go with Carlos Hyde at Ohio State. Meyer has committed to limiting Miller’s called rush plays and focused on getting him to improve reads to give up the ball to the RB. Hyde only played in 3/4ths of the games last year. Even then, he should have had a lot more carries if Miller had read the plays correctly. IMO, Hyde could double his yards production in 2013.

Kenny on 6/8/2013 @ 8:21am EDT Said:

Melvin Gordon

John Roger Weis on 6/8/2013 @ 10:53pm EDT Said:

I imagine the rushing title will go to Wisconsin, with a very close challenge between both White and Gordon; ranking 1 and 2 in yards for the B1G.