Predicting which B1G RBs will hit 1,000 yards in 2019
The number of B1G running backs who hit 1,000 yards seems to fluctuate quite a bit on a year-to-year basis. Last year, nine ball carriers hit the milestone while in 2017, only five players reached the mark. There were nine again in 2016, preceded by just five in 2015.
Perhaps you’re noticing a trend here.
While it’s unlikely that specific trend continues, it just goes to show how unpredictable things can be in the B1G. But guess what…we’re going to give it a shot anyway.
We’ve listed a few B1G running backs who have a good shot at reaching 1,000 yards in 2019.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
In his first two seasons in Madison, Taylor has rushed for over 4,000 yards. Hitting the 1,000-yard mark, especially at Wisconsin, seems like a lock. He’ll be one of the top running backs in the B1G and in college football one again in 2019. The biggest question comes along the offensive line. With the Badgers losing four starters from the unit, Taylor’s production could see a bit of a dip from past years.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
With Mike Weber departing from Columbus early, Dobbins becomes the primary ball carrier for the Buckeyes and will likely shoulder a majority of the weight in the rushing attack. With Ryan Day running the show, Ohio State will still spread the ball around through the passing attack, and Justin Fields’ mobility gives the Buckeyes a few more options in the run game. Still, Dobbins should see enough touches to hit 1,000 yards for a third-straight season.
Ricky Slade, Penn State
Slade will be transitioning from a backup role into the starting job in 2019. That’s a pretty big leap to take, especially in the B1G East. The former five-star running back has more than enough talent to be the focal point of Penn State’s offense, much like Saquon Barkley a few years ago. Slade will likely split time with guys like Journey Brown, Devyn Ford and potentially Noah Cain, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t see a majority of the carries next fall.
Reggie Corbin, Illinois
The Illini might’ve only won four games last season, but the offense looked completely different under Rod Smith. Basically, Smith did an excellent job of utilizing Corbin’s talent. With Mike Bellamy back in Champaign, Corbin should receive excellent coaching in the offseason to prepare for another big year. The biggest question for Corbin’s ability to hit 1,000 yards is the offensive line, and whether it can create enough space for him to rip off some big runs in his final year.
Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern
It wasn’t until midway through the 2018 season that Bowser finally got the opportunity to be the guy out of the backfield for the Wildcats. But when Pat Fitzgerald gave the freshman a chance, he ran with it. Literally. In eight games, Bowser rushed for 866 yards and six touchdowns and eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times. It’s going to be interesting to see what Bowser can do for the Northwestern offense with a full season in the backfield.
Mekhi Sargent, Iowa
Running the football wasn’t exactly a strength for Iowa last season, but Sargent got a taste of what it was like to be the primary back on a team expected to compete for a division title. And, if history tells us anything, it’s that Iowa running backs tend to see improvements throughout their career. The Hawkeyes should have a solid offensive line to create openings for Sargent, too.
Wandale Robinson, Nebraska
The incoming all-purpose back has already drawn comparison’s to Purdue’s Rondale Moore with his explosive speed and playmaking ability. In Scott Frost’s offense, it’s going to be hard to keep Robinson from hitting the 1,000-yard mark, even as a newcomer. An adjustment to the college level could take a few games, but Robinson should be one of the more fun freshman to watch in the conference next fall.
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Minnesota actually has three candidates to hit the 1,000-yard mark next season. In the same sense, it has none. With Smith, Shannon Brooks and Mohamed Ibrahim all returning, there’s a possibility that P.J. Fleck splits up the carries to keep guys fresh, limiting the chances to hit the milestone. That’s not a bad problem to have, in all reality. Still, With a stout offensive line and Smith back in the lineup, he’s probably got the best chance to hit 1,000 yards in 2019 of all the Gopher RBs.
Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers
Considering how poorly Rutgers’ offense has been the past few years, putting Pacheco on this list might be a stretch. However, the running back showed off good speed and playmaking ability, especially in a game against Michigan — one of the top defenses in the B1G. Pacheco finished with just 551 yards and three touchdowns in 2018, but with more carries, he could double that total in his sophomore campaign.