The Big Ten rushing race is always a fun topic to track each and every season. That goes double for 2024 with the B1G welcoming 4 new programs to the league with all eyes on how quickly Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington acclimate to the league.

Even without the arrival of those schools, the B1G was going to have a deep stable of running backs in place. That group even grew with the transfer arrival of Quinshon Judkins from Ole Miss, a player who has led the SEC in rushing during his career.

All in all, it shapes up to be a competitive race for the rushing title in 2024, and some teams even have a pair of running backs capable of challenging for the rushing lead. Ultimately, 5 players stand out a bit ahead of training camp though this list could look differently as we get closer to Week 1.

For now, here are the top 5 challengers for the B1G’s rushing title in the 2024 season, presented in no particular order:

Kyle Monangai, Rutgers

To anyone who wasn’t plugged into the 2023 B1G season, it may come as a surprise that Kyle Monangai was the league’s top rusher. To Rutgers fans or any team that had to face Monangai last season, it’s common knowledge.

After a 49-yard clunker in the season opener, Monangai went on to lead the B1G in total rushing yards (1,262) and yards per game (97.08). He would eclipse the century mark 7 times, including 5 games with 140+ rushing yards. The Scarlet Knights would finish the year 5-2 in games that Monangai rushed for 100+ yards.

Arguably more impressive, Monangai reached those numbers with a quarterback who rushed for just shy of 500 yards and completed less than 50% of his passes. That will change this year with Gavin Wimsatt departing and Athan Kaliakmanis taking over under center, but that’s not likely to change Monangai’s output.

If anything, the introduction of Kaliakmanis should help open up the running lanes for Monangai more than take opportunities away from the star running back.

Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State

Ohio State has 2 guys that could land on this list with Quinshon Judkins and TreVeyon Henderson. In fact, Henderson finished 2nd among B1G running backs in yards per game at 92.60 last season, but it must be said he missed 3 games.

On the other hand, Judkins has rushed for 2,725 yards in 2 seasons at Ole Miss, including a 2022 campaign when he led the SEC in rushing with 1,565 yards and over 120 yards per game. It also must be said that Judkins did not transfer to Columbus to be a 2nd-string option.

The Buckeyes need both Judkins and Henderson to reach their goals this fall, and there will be some kind of balance between the usage of the two backs. But it’s still not hard to see Judkins winning the rushing title in 2024, and history tells us it is possible for the top rusher to come from a deep backfield.

JK Dobbins tied for the B1G rushing mark in 2019 during the same season that saw Master Teague III rush for almost 800 yards. A similar scenario could play itself out in 2024.

RELATED: Ready to take the plunge on Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship odds? Use Tradition’s curated list of Ohio sports betting apps to get started!

Donovan Edwards, Michigan

What should fans expect from Donovan Edwards in 2024? The talent remains undeniable, but projecting his production contains some complexity.

First of all, consider that Michigan’s offensive line experienced massive overhaul after winning the national title. Many key contributors from the unit are off to the NFL, and it’s fair to wonder how a new group looks next season.

Then, there’s the up-and-down nature of Edwards’ 2022 and 2023 numbers.

After finishing the final portion of the 2022 season as the feature back, Edwards ended the year with 991 rushing yards, right at 200 receiving yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. After returning to a true No. 2 role in 2023, Edwards’ efficiency dipped to a career-worst mark at 4.2 yards per carry. (That number includes Edwards’ dramatic conclusion to the season with 104 yards on 6 carries in the title game.)

In reality, I think Edwards’ 2024 yards per carry numbers will land in the middle of the low end (4.2) and the high end (7.1) of his career. And, considering his likely high usage this season, that number should have him in contention for the rushing title if he stays healthy.

RELATED: Can Michigan make it 4 straight B1G titles in 2024? Check out the latest odds and get in on the action with Tradition’s Michigan sports betting apps.

Jordan James, Oregon

Some B1G fans may be unaware of the name Jordan James. Or the overall offensive philosophy of Dan Lanning and the Ducks for that matter.

Bo Nix was the overarching storyline for Oregon last year, but it overshadowed the emphasis Lanning’s program has placed on running the ball. For example, the Ducks were led by Bucky Irving who rushed for just shy of 1,200 yards and averaged over 6 yards per carry, and James was not far behind.

James rushed for 759 yards and averaged an eye-popping 7.1 yards per carry to go with 11 touchdowns. That YPC number ranked 10th nationally for 2023.

Irving is now in the NFL, so James will be looked upon to take an even bigger step forward in 2024. Even with Oregon balancing the RB usage, he should be in the mix to be the league’s leading rusher.

Kaytron Allen/Nicholas Singleton, Penn State

I believe one of Penn State’s running backs will be in the mix to lead the B1G in rushing this season. But I readily admit I am unsure which player will lead the way.

Nick Singleton is the former 5-star prospect who burst onto the scene with 1,000 yards as a freshman and nearly 7 yards per carry. However, it was Kaytron Allen who led the Nittany Lions with 902 rushing yards in 2023 as Singleton’s efficiency plummeted to 4.4 YPC.

The 2 players will always be compared closely after entering Penn State in the 2022 recruiting class. And their first 2 seasons together look very similar.

Singleton has the edge with 1,813 rushing yards to Allen’s 1,769, and Singleton has produced that number on slightly fewer carries (327 carries to Allen’s 339). As a result, Singleton also gets the nod in overall efficiency for the 2 seasons (5.5 YPC to Allen’s 5.2), though Allen has been more consistent across the 2 seasons.

So, who gets the RB1 role this fall?

The presence of new OC Andy Kotelnicki should help Singleton rediscover his explosive play ability, but until it happens on the field, it’s tough to project either RB as the surefire go-to option in the backfield. Either way, look for one of these guys to emerge as a potential 1st-team All-B1G contributor.