After a 2020 season that allowed players to transfer with instant eligibility, sit out a season, and return for another, it’s hard to keep track of who all will be playing this season in the Big Ten Conference. More importantly, who will be putting on the most impressive performances?
We continue our annual Ranking the Big Ten series today with the running backs, a group of explosive veterans, and a rising star.
1. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota
Minnesota senior Mohamed Ibrahim is the top returning running back in the Big Ten, and the stats make it clear why.
The 2020 Big Ten running back of the year racked up 1,076 rushing yards on 201 carries and 15 touchdowns in 2020. He averaged 153.7 yards per game and now holds the highest season rushing yardage per game in Minnesota football history.
The Golden Gophers sputtered to a 3-4 record after an 11-2 finish in 2019. Ibrahim, a 2020 first-team All-Big Ten selection, was consistently a bright spot on P.J. Fleck‘s offense. He scored a staggering 83.3 offense grade and 83.4 run grade on Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Minnesota has three top-tier offensive linemen in right tackle Blaise Andries, right guard Conner Olsen and center John Michael Schmitz. These big men have displayed their ability to open holes for Ibrahim, and he has more than proven his ability to hit them and burn defenses.
2. Tyler Goodson, Iowa
Iowa junior running back Tyler Goodson was also a 2020 First-Team All-Big Ten selection after leading the team in rushing with 762 yards on 143 attempts and seven touchdowns in 2020.
Goodson became the first-ever true freshman to lead an Iowa team in rushing yards. He stepped even more into his role as a sophomore and took the Big Ten by storm.
The 2018 Georgia Player of the Year had the best game of his career against Minnesota last season. Goodson rushed from 142 yards on 20 carries equaling 7.1 yards per carry and two touchdowns. This performance earned him an 85.1 offense grade, 86.1 pass grade, and an astounding 84.3 pass-blocking grade on PFF.
With his first 12 game season of starts ahead of him, Goodson will continue to prove his dominance and will likely rush for more than 1,000 yards.
3. Master Teague III, Ohio State
Ohio State running back Master Teague III is entering his third but first full season as the No. 1 RB with the Buckeyes. He worked behind Baltimore Raven J.K. Dobbins as a freshman in 2019, and then Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon last year.
Last season, Teague rushed for 514 yards on 104 carries which earned him a 2020 Third-Team All-Big Ten selection. As a freshman as the No. 2 RB, Teague had 135 carries with 789 rushing yards in 13 games.
Teague earned a 73.0 offense grade, 75.6 run grade, and a 51.7 pass-blocking grade on PFF in 2020. This season, he will be the No. 1 RB for the first time in his career, and he has the skills and talented predecessors to learn from to help him excel during his third season as a Buckeye.
4. Cam Porter, Northwestern
Northwestern running back Cam Porter is a thing of nightmares. At least that’s what the three running backs that transferred from Northwestern might think.
Porter’s emergence during his freshman season played a direct role in causing three of the Wildcats’ top-five running backs to transfer.
As a freshman, Porter rushed for 353 yards on 81 carries and scored five touchdowns in seven games. His first career start came against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, in which he had 16 carries and 61 yards.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound back is bound for many more opportunities in 2021 with the No. 1 running back title, his competition dwindling, and his ability to accelerate and hit holes.
5. Hassan Haskins, Michigan
According to PFF, Michigan running back Hassan Haskins is the top blocking running back going into the 2021 season. The senior had a pass-blocking grade of 81.7, the second-highest in the Big Ten, and the highest returning number this year.
The PFF grades also gave him an 80.9 offense score and an 84 run score for his 2020 efforts. As a sophomore, Haskins rushed for 622 yards on 121 carries during 13 games. During six games in 2020, he earned 375 rushing yards on 61 carries.
Michigan’s quarterback Joe Milton transferred to Tennessee, and junior Cade McNamara is likely to take over at QB1. McNamara played in four games last season, but he and Haskins will need to create a solid connection for Haskins to reach his potential in the Big Ten.