As I have said before, the SEC West is, perhaps, the most fertile ground for superstar backs to emerge. Since 2000, SEC West teams have churned out thousand-yard rushers like candy. Last year's West included the all-time rushing leader at Mississippi State, the leading rusher from 2008 at LSU, Alabama's first Heisman trophy winner, and the greatest Rebel ever to wear #22. Andi if Auburn and Arkansas felt left out, they can hearken back to their respective Williams/Brown and McFadden/Jones eras. For the life of me, I cannot think of an SEC East team that can claim a similar embarrassment of riches in the backfield since I have been paying attention to football. In 2010, Alabama gets their turn with a dynamic duo.
There is just no way to argue it any different. While Ingram might have been an underwhelming choice for the Heisman Trophy, he is still a fantastic tailback. And he is paired with Trent Richardson, who has been subject to the most played-out "might be better" storyline in the history of the world. You and I may be hoping that lingering questions on their offensive line might slow that rushing attack down. But that's sort of what I hoped last year.
Mario Fannin and Onterrio McCallebb showed flashes of brilliance in 2009. You might remember the then-freshman McCallebb leading the SEC in rushing for a few weeks early in the year. One of these guys is going to turn out a fine season for the War Eagle Plainsmen.
#3 OLE MISS
Where everyone else is just choking in 'Bama's dust why not let a little optimism sneak in here? At least until Jeremiah Masoli gets acclimated, Brandon Bolden will be the centerpiece of whatever offense Ole Miss is able to put together. We may be in State 2009 territory here when it comes to our ground game. But you play whatever game you can, I guess.
At some point all those stars just have to turn into yards. Between Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, and Trindon Holliday, there has been a lot of star power around LSU running backs recently, but except for Scott's phenomenal first half of the season in 2008, production has been slow to say the least. Richard Murphey, who Miles maintained in 2009 was the most talented back in his corp, returns. As does "workhorse" Stephen Ridley. The rushing attack was embarrassingly bad in 2009, so there's no where to go but up.
We all remember Robert Elliot. An Ole Miss commit that decided at the last minute that he'd be better off "rockin' the deuce" for Sylvester, Elliot started grooming then to take over. However, he never had much game experience, since the Maroon needed to give Anthony Dixon every carry just have a fighting chance of staying in the game. Now it's Elliot's turn. While I don't expect him to be anywhere as bad as, say, the late-Cutcliffe era committees, Elliot will neither be all that good.
I got railed on last year when I put the Hawgs at the bottom. Well, guess what? I'm doing it again. Their leading returning rusher is Broderick Green with 442 yards. They like him so much that he's moving to fullback. The player getting the most snaps is Dennis Johnson, last seen returning kickoffs for an average of 25.78 yards. Fortunately for the Hawgs, they just won't need a reliable running game very often. And they definitely don't need a star. Go ahead and ask Eli Manning if you really need that silly old traditional running game.