Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot took a short hiatus from the Heisman Trophy conversation after a two-week stretch in which he produced just 4.2 yards per carry against suspect competition in Hawaii and Northern Illinois.
However, thanks to a solid performance against Western Michigan in Week 4 and a 274-yard, three-touchdown breakthrough in Week 5’s win at Indiana, the junior Buckeye is back on the map as one of the nation’s top contenders for the bronze.
With Urban Meyer adjusting his offense and reverting back to the up-tempo, ground-and-pound scheme that won him a national championship last season, opponents could be set to receive a heavy dose of Elliot in the coming weeks as the Buckeyes continue to find their niche with the ball in their hands.
That’s probably not great news for Maryland, which ranks 103rd nationally against the run (199.8 yards allowed per game). The Terps are coming off a 28-0 loss to Michigan, where they were shredded for 198 yards on the ground against a backfield full of reserves, as starting RB De’Veon Smith missed due to injury.
After all, the Big Ten’s leading rusher is hungry. And the only way to take care of that is to feed him.
What do you think of the rankings? Let us know in the comment section below, or follow @TodaysUSports to tell us how you really feel.
*A point system was assigned, giving 5 points for a player with a No. 1 vote, 4 points for a No. 2 vote, and so on.
The Big 3
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
2015 stats: 99 carries, 864 yards (8.7 ypc), 11 TD
Last week vs. Eastern Michigan: 26 carries, 233 yards (9.0 ypc), 3 TD
Why: Producing 233 yards against Eastern Michigan was just another walk in the park for Fournette, who now owns the SEC record with three straight games with 200 or more. He’s now on pace for 2,376 yards this regular season, and that would be in 11 games — and that’s without an SEC Championship appearance or postseason. In short: Fournette is a special player, and we just all need to appreciate the time we have with him in the college ranks.
2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
2015 stats: 119-of-188 (63.3 percent), 1,802 yards, 19 TD, 3 INT … 53 carries, 242 yards (4.6 ypc), 2 TD
Last week vs. Texas: 20-of-35 (57.1 percent), 332 yards, 5 TD … 7 carries, 52 yards
Why: Boykin slides into the No. 2 spot after throttling Texas with his second five-touchdown performance of the season and a career-high 90.8 QBR (minimum 10 attempts). He’s already broken records — most recently Andy Dalton’s touchdown record — and is on track to shatter more. TCU’s defense may have just held the Longhorns to seven points, but expect the ‘Frogs to be in a few more shootouts before season’s end; you can also expect Boykin’s stat sheet to continue inflating.
3. Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
2015 stats: 100 carries, 729 yards (7.3 ypc), 8 TD … 10 rec, 63 yards
Last week vs. Indiana: 23 carries, 274 yards (11.9 ypc), 3 TD … 2 rec, 12 yards
Why: Thanks to runs of 55, 65, and 75 yards by Elliot, Ohio State was able to squeak by Indiana, 34-27. Elliot has recorded 10 straight games of 100-plus yards, with his most recent post ending up as his fourth career 200-yard performance. With the Buckeyes’ offensive struggles lingering into Week 6, it’s safe to assume Urban Meyer will continue to lean on his workhorse from the backfield.
In the Hunt
4. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: 91 carries, 745 yards (8.2 ypc), 7 TD … 4 rec, 32 yards, TD
5. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor: 65-of-103 (63.1 percent), 1,281 yards, 19 TD, 5 INT … 22 carries, 172 yards (7.8 ypc), 3 TD
6. Cody Kessler, QB, USC: 89-of-122 (73.0 percent), 1,297 yards, 15 TD, INT
7. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: 25 tackles (9.5 TFL), 7.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
8. Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy: 14-of-27 (51.9 percent), 265 yards, 2 TD … 87 carries, 488 yards (5.6 ypc), 9 TD
Keep Your Eye on:
9. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
10. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
11. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
12. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
13. Jared Goff, QB, California
14. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
15. Matt Johnson, QB, Bowling Green
16. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
(You can view last week’s edition of Hunting the Heisman here.)