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Top 5 College Running Backs

After taking a look at college football’s top five quarterbacks last week, BettingSports.com continues the slow (but sure) march to the new football season with a look at the backfield.

There’s still plenty of spring/summer left, but right now we’ve been sifting through bookmakers’ lists looking for some early action.

Today, we bring you the top five college football running backs according to leading online sportsbook, Bovada.

We’ve taken a look at the Heisman Trophy odds as they stand right now, and included them alongside each player.

Of course, the Heisman Trophy and the running back position have been divorced for four years – the last rusher to take home the trophy was Mark Ingram in 2009 – but with the position being the second most common to be awarded the trophy (after quarterback), there’s always the possibility to earn some cash along the way.

Now, without further ado…


5. Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)

Abdullah showed improvement across the board in 2013 and will enter his senior season looking for even more. Nebraska (9-4) meanwhile will be looking to put in a better performance after going just 5-3 in conference play. The running game will be pivotal in the Big Ten once more this season, which means Abdullah can expect a hefty share of the football. Barring injury, the Cornhusker could well prove to be this year’s best rusher and book himself a spot in the 2015 NFL Draft in the process.

Last year: 13 games / 281 attempts / 1,690 yards / 6.0 AVG / 9 TD / 232 yards, 2 TD (receiving)

Current odds to win Heisman Trophy: 28/1


4. Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)

Like Abdullah, Gordon can expect to be called on big time as Wisconsin (9-4) looks to improve on a season that was for the most part a success. Outside of the Big Ten’s two division champions (Ohio State and Michigan State), the Badgers were the conference’s best side and look solid for the upcoming season. Conference realignment helps a lot too; the Badgers will play in the revamped Big Ten’s West Division, where Nebraska will be the biggest threat. A November 15 matchup between the Badgers and Cornhuskers – which sees Gordon and Abdullah go head-to-head – could well prove to be the division decider.

Last year: 13 games / 206 attempts / 1,609 yards / 7.8 AVG / 12 TD / 35 yards (receiving)

Current odds to win Heisman Trophy: 18/1


3. Mike Davis (South Carolina)

Davis had a breakthrough year in 2013, rushing for close to 1,200 yards and proving to be an important part of a South Carolina (11-2) team that came close to crashing the SEC party. The Gamecocks have proven to be one of the conference’s toughest sides in recent years, and will begin the year ranked inside the top 15 with bookmakers. Davis tired towards the end of last year but is intent on playing hard and fast when the season kicks off in August. No doubt he’ll be a key component of the Gamecocks’ offense once more, and could provide the push the side needs to make it into the SEC championship game.

Last year: 12 games / 203 attempts / 1,183 yards / 5.8 AVG / 11 TD / 352 yards (receiving)

Current odds to win Heisman Trophy: 18/1


2. T.J. Yeldon (Alabama)

After rushing for more than 1,100 yards in his freshman season, Yeldon was even more impressive in 2013. Alabama (11-2) fell short when it mattered most though, and left the season with a pair of losses. Nick Saban will be looking to propel his team back to the top of the championship heap, and Yeldon could prove to be the key factor when it comes to success. With A.J. McCarron gone, the Tide has yet to find its new quarterback, and if that void isn’t filled quickly (and competently) the running game, and Yeldon, becomes more important. Bettors thinking Heisman should be wary though; sophomore back Derrick Henry could take some (a lot?) of Yeldon’s carries after a solid freshman season. Henry himself is ranked at 28/1 to win the Heisman, tying him with Abdullah for fifth spot on the running backs list.

Last year: 12 games / 207 attempts / 1,253 yards / 6.0 AVG / 14 TD / 183 yards (receiving)

Current odds to win Heisman Trophy: 14/1


1. Todd Gurley (Georgia)

Gurley missed three games with an injured ankle in 2013, but still ran for close to 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. The back also caught the ball for 441 yards and six TDs, making him the most productive two-pronged player on this list. Heading into his junior year, the bookmakers have him as the top running back in college, something Georgia (8-5) hopes will prove to be true as the school looks to wash away a forgetful year that was marred by injuries, and not just to Gurley. The Bulldogs are currently ranked just outside the top 10 with Bovada, but if Gurley can live up to or better his career average – 194 carries, 1,187 yards, 14 TDs – the side will be in contention, at least for the SEC title.

Last year: 10 games / 165 attempts / 989 yards / 6.0 AVG / 10 TD / 441 yards, 6 TD (receiving)

Current odds to win Heisman Trophy: 12/1


As we mentioned last week, betting on the Heisman Trophy at this stage is very much a crap shoot and all it takes is one freshman prodigy to come out and ruin the party for bettors everywhere. If you’re wondering who’s currently on the freshman radar, Sports Illustrated has you covered with this article.

According to the SI writers, Leonard Fournette at Louisiana State is most likely to make a noise amongst freshman running backs, while big things are expected of Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) and D’Ernest Johnson (South Florida).

A Quick Reminder: The 2014 NFL Draft is now less than three weeks away. The event will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York on May 8-10.

All Heisman odds quoted come courtesy of Bovada.

All statistics quoted come courtesy of Sports Reference.

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