Power ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten entering Week 4: Running backs rule
There’s a running back renaissance going on in the Big Ten.
Top 2 rushers in the country? B1G backs. Illinois’ Chase Brown and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim both are grinding out more than 150 rushing yards per game. No one else among the 131 FBS teams can make that claim.
Nation’s leader in yards from scrimmage and all-purpose yards? That would be Northwestern’s Evan Hull.
Nation’s leader in yards per carry? Penn State freshman phenom Nicholas Singleton.
Not surprisingly, our top 10 list skews RB heavy after Week 3’s action, with 50 percent of the slots going to those who tote the rock. And, for now, Michigan’s Blake Corum and Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen are on the outside looking in. We’re only recognizing 2 QBs this week, so Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell didn’t make the cut either.
Top 10 lists are supposed to be exclusive, right?
We’re passing on one entire side of the ball after Week 3. There will be times to celebrate defense as the season progresses, but this is not one of them. We’ll see what Week 4 brings.
For now, this is what we have:
10. Charles Campbell, K, Indiana
Campbell went 4-for-4 on fields against Western Kentucky, nailing a 51-yarder for a walk-off win in overtime.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 17, 2022
The 5-9 senior has come up huge twice in 3 games to help Indiana go 3-0. He had makes from 39, 43 and 43 yards in a season-opening victory over Illinois.
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Since hitting his first kick as a Hoosier in 2019, he’s had an 82.1% success rate on FGs, made 5-of-6 from 50+ and never missed an extra point.
9. Roman Hemby, RB, Maryland
The redshirt freshman complements the team’s perimeter weapons, making the Terps more balanced and thus tougher to defend. He’s 5th in the Big Ten in yards from scrimmage (128.3 per game) and has flashed big-play ability. He went 70 for a TD in his first start in Week 1, then busted this 50-yarder in Saturday’s victory over SMU:
— Maryland On BTN (@MarylandOnBTN) September 17, 2022
With Hemby also capable as a receiver out of the backfield, star QB Taulia Tagovailoa might be able to stress No. 4 Michigan’s top 5 scoring defense this weekend.
8. Evan Hull, RB, Northwestern
This would be a way cooler story if we could take way Hull’s 2 lost fumbles and the Wildcats’ 2 awful losses. But the fact remains that Hull is the only player in the FBS averaging better than 100 yards both rushing (102.7) and receiving (100.3).
The 5-11, 210-pound workhorse ran for 124 yards and caught 8 balls for another 33 yards in Saturday’s loss to Southern Illinois. He remains the nation’s leader in yards from scrimmage and all-purpose yards. But if he and the Wildcats drop the ball again as 7-point favorites against visiting Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, we might be dropping him.
7. JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan
It’ll be fun to see what kind of numbers Michigan’s new starting quarterback can post in a competitive game. Maryland visits The Big House on Saturday in the B1G opener for both B1G East programs. McCarthy hasn’t broken much of a sweat while completing 88.2% of his passes against vastly inferior foes. But he has the dual-threat arsenal to put on a fireworks show if one is needed.
6. Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
The 5-11, 205-pound junior has been Bret Bielema’s workhorse back through 3 games, and he’s well rested coming off a bye week.
Averaging a nation’s best 168 rushing yards per game, Brown will resume his power drive Thursday under the lights against visiting Chattanooga.
5. Nicholas Singleton, RB, Penn State
The 5-star freshman had runs of 53 and 54 yards against Auburn, boosting his tally of 40+ runs to 5, 3 more than anyone else in the country. He’s averaging a nation’s best 11.1 yards per carry. He’s outpacing former Penn State great Saquon Barkley through his first 3 games in college. If a third straight 100-yard game comes Saturday against Central Michigan, Beaver Stadium is going to be a madhouse and the hyperbole will go off the charts.
Nick Singleton. Freshman Heisman. Penn State is a PROBLEM. pic.twitter.com/TqneJ7W2Ev
— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) September 17, 2022
4. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
He’s looking more and more like his NFL legend dad with each passing game. With 2 more TD catches against Toledo, he has 8 TDs over 4 games dating to his breakout in the Rose Bowl. He’s No. 6 in the country with 114.0 receiving yards per game. Wisconsin is up next. Any chance the Badgers can slow him down?
Marvin Harrison Jr.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 17, 2022
3. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
With the news that the Gophers’ top wide receiver, Chris Autman-Bell, is out for the season, Ibrahim will be needed more than ever.
He proved again Saturday that he’s up to it, posting his 4th career 200-yard rushing game and 12th straight 100-yard performance as Minnesota stomped Colorado to improve to 3-0. He scored 3 times, giving him 25 TDs over his past 12 games.
“If you could take a video of what is #Gophers football take that one.”
PJ Fleck on Mohamed Ibrahim’s remarkable TD run. pic.twitter.com/mq0DW8yrh5
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) September 17, 2022
Now more than ever, PJ Fleck will take 2+ TDs per game and everything else the 5-10, 210-pound 6th-year senior can give before he heads off to the NFL.
2. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
Aidan O’Connell’s new-old favorite weapon leads the nation in receptions (32, 10.7 per game) and ranks 2nd in receiving yards per game (158.0) and TDs (5).
After toiling in obscurity at Iowa last season, O’Connell’s former youth league teammate is thriving in West Lafayette, Indiana. That tells you all you need to know about the gulf in coaching philosophies between Purdue’s Jeff Brohm and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. We’re glad for Jones that he has found the fun side of that divide. The fact that the Boilermakers are 1-2 has nothing to do with Jones. He’s been awesome.
1. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The redshirt sophomore is building momentum — for his Heisman campaign and the Buckeyes’ quest to make the CFP.
Steadily increasing his output with each passing game, Stroud posted his best numbers of the season against Toledo: 22-27, 367 yards, 5 TDs. He’s hitting Marvin Harrison and Emeka Edbuka in stride. Each of them has back-to-back 100-yard games.
Excuse us as we revisit this absolutely silly throw from C.J. Stroud. pic.twitter.com/7HwqICQ5vf
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 17, 2022
Stroud shares the national lead with 11 TD passes, and he’s the only one in the group who hasn’t thrown a pick.
League play opens at home against Wisconsin on Saturday night. Looks like CJ is ready.