Way-too-early Big Ten running back room rankings: Who will take over at Wisconsin?

Can Wisconsin have another top running back room in the Big Ten next season?
Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) runs the ball against Purdue.
Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) runs the ball against Purdue. / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers had the fifth-best rushing offense in 2023, a lot of that thanks to the talents of Braelon Allen who had the third most rushing yards in the Big Ten with 984 yards on 181 carries.

With Allen now gone, the Badgers will turn to Chez Mellusi yet again to be the lead back in Luke Fickell's second season as the Badger's head coach.

The Big Ten is set to have some of the best running backs in college football this season. With Ohio State and Michigan having two of the top running back rooms in college football, be prepared to see a lot of big touchdown runs.

So how does the rest of the Big Ten match up in the running back room?

Big Ten RB rankings. . . . . . . 18. 489.

Running backs: Cam Porter, Joseph Himon II

Cam Porter had a solid year for the Wildcats in his third season with 651 yards and four touchdowns, but he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. There is not a lot of depth at the running back position for the Wildcats so that is why they are on the bottom of this rankings.

. 482. Big Ten RB rankings. . . . . 17. .

Running backs: Kaelon Black

Kaelon Black comes to Indiana following head coach Curt Cignetti from James Madison. Black was a big part of the Dukes' elite offense in 2023 with 637 yards and four touchdowns. He is a good addition to the Hoosier offense, but can he translate his ability from a smaller school to now a power conference program?

. 481. . Big Ten RB rankings. . . . 16. .

Running backs: Kaden Feagin, Josh McCray

The passing game will be the highlight for Illinois with the trio of pass catchers they have this upcoming season. The running game however, might be the weakest point of the offense.

Kaden Feagin is coming a season with just 95 carries for 438 yards and two touchdowns. The departure of Reggie Love III is what hurts the Fighting Illini's rushing attack the most.

. . 15. Big Ten RB rankings. . . . . . 492

Running backs: Devin Mockobee, Reggie Love III

The Boilermakers struggled in every aspect of offense in 2023, but their run game might have been the best of the worst. The pickup of Reggie Love III was huge for Purdue in the offseason after having 567 yards and four touchdowns in 2023.

However, Devin Mockobee will continue to be the lead back for the Boilermakers after having 807 yards and six touchdowns. The duo of mockable and Love will be one to watch as both guys have starting abilities.

. 14. Big Ten RB rankings. . . 439. . . .

Running backs: Roman Hemby, Nolan Ray

Roman Hempy will again be the lead back for the Terrapins in 2024, but he needs to find a way to get in the endzone more. With 680 yards, one would hope to see more than four touchdowns, especially after scoring 10 in 2022.

. . 13. . . . . Big Ten RB rankings. . 488

Running backs: Gabe Ervin Jr.

The passing game should be the star of the show for Nebraska, but their run game can have highlight moments as well. Gabe Ervin Jr.'s season ended early in 2023 with an injury, but before his season was over he had 196 yards and one touchdown.

Coming off of a season-ending injury can always be tough, but after working through spring ball, Ervin is set to have a decent season for the Cornhuskers.

Big Ten RB rankings. . . . 12. . . 493. .

Running backs: Chez Mellusi, Tawee Walker

Before Braelon Allen exploded on the scene in Madison, Chez Mellusi was the lead back after transferring from Clemson for the Badgers. Mellusi served primarily as a backup for the Badgers in 2023, but looks to take the stating role back now in 2024.

As a backup, Mellusi still had 307 yards and four touchdowns averaging 6.0 yards per carry. However, his best season was back in 2021 when he had 173 carries for 815 yards and five touchdowns. It seems that the running back will be in good hands with Mellusi, with Tawee Walker coming in as the backup.

. . . . 519. . . Big Ten RB rankings. 11.

Running backs: Woody Marks, Quinten Joyner

Woody Marks will be the lead back for the Trojans as they make the move to the Big Ten. He had a solid year in 2023 with 573 yards and four touchdowns with Mississippi State. With Caleb Williams now gone, Lincoln Riley might need to rely on the running game a little more in 2024.

Quinten Joyner will be a good backup for Marks after having 125 yards and one touchdown in his freshman season.

Big Ten RB rankings. . . 518. . . 10. . .

Running backs: T.J. Harden, Anthony Adkins

The Bruins come to the Big Ten with a new head coach after Chip Kelly left a coordinator job at Ohio State. They also lost their quarterback Dante Moore to Big Ten rival Oregon so the run game will be crucial for the Bruins in 2024.

T.J. Harden looks to be the lead back for the Bruins heading into 2024 after having 827 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 2023. 

. . 9. . Big Ten RB rankings. . 521. . .

Running backs: Jonah Coleman, Cameron Davis

The transfer of Jonah Coleman will end up helping the Huskies with their running game, especially a year after falling in the National Championship and losing your core offensive players.

Coleman comes to Washington after recording 871 yards on 128 carries and five touchdowns with a monster 6.8 yards per carry. The one-two punch of Coleman and Cameron Davis can make the Huskies dangerous in the run game. Davis is coming off an injury that kept him off the field in 2023, but in 2022 he had 522 yards and 13 touchdowns.

. . . Big Ten RB rankings. . . 8. . 486.

Running backs: Nate Carter, Jaren Mangham

The Spartans have a new head coach in 2024 with Jonathan Smith taking the position. So, the running game and the offense as a whole might look different this next season.

Nate Carter has made his return for the 2024 season after putting up 798 yards and four touchdowns, however, he only averaged 4.3 yards per carry. In order to take a step forward, Carter will need to up his yards per carry to help this offense soar.

. 7. . . . . Big Ten Rb rankings. . . 483

Running backs: Leshon Williams, Kaleb Johnson

Iowa's defense was the biggest reason the Hawkeyes made it to the Big Ten Championship in 2023. It seems like that could be the case again in 2024, but the running game might be the bright spot for this team.

Leshon Williams had an impressive 821 yards in 2023, but only two touchdowns. He needs to boost his stats, especially in the endzone in 2024to help this Hawkeyes offense take a step forward.

. . . . 515. Big Ten RB rankings. . . . 6

Running backs: Jordan James, Noah Whittington

The run game might be the one part of the Oregon offense that isn't the most elite in the Big Ten. However, this does not mean the Ducks don't have a hard-hitting running back in the back field.

Jordan James comes into 2024 with 759 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Duck while also averaging a monster 7.1 yards per carry. If James can boost his caries and sustain his yards per carry, then he could move his way up these rankings.

. . . 452. . . Big Ten RB rankings. . 5.

Running backs: Kyle Monangai

Kyle Monangai was one of the top running backs in the Big Ten in 2023 with 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns averaging 5.2 yards per carry. As a returning lead back, Monangai is set to have another great season for the Scarlet Knights. He also works well in the passing game with 177 yards through the air and can probably find the endzone in 2024.

. 487. . Big Ten RB rankings. . . . . . 4

Running backs: Darius Taylor

Darius Taylor found himself on CBS' Top 100 Players list clocking in at No. 72. He will be the main feature of the Golden Gopher offense in 2024.

In 2023, Taylor had good production with 799 yards and five touchdowns averaging 5.8 yards per carry. If Taylor can boost his yards per carry, he could be one of the top running backs in the Big Ten.

. Big Ten RB rankings. . . . . 491. . . 3

Running backs: Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen

Penn State has some questions at quarterback, but thier running back room seems to be the best part of their offense. Nicholas Singleton had 752 yards and eight touchdowns in 2023 averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Kayton Allen might be the best RB2 in college football as he has 903 yards and six touchdowns in 2023.

Big Ten RB rankings. . . . 485. . . . . 2

Running backs: Donovan Edwards

Donovan Edwards comes back to Michigan after serving as the backup back to Blake Corum during the Wolverines National Championship season. Edwards is expected to be one of the best backs in college football next season coming in at No. 7 in ESPN's top 10 RB rankings.

As a backup, Edwards recorded 497 yards on 119 carries and five touchdowns while averaging just 4.2 yards per carry. He will get the opportunity to boost his stats in 2024 as the lead back.

. . . 1. . . 490. Big Ten RB rankings. .

Running backs: TreVeyon Henderson, Quinshon Judkins

Ohio State has probably the best running back room in college football for the 2024 season. Both TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins are ranked in ESPN's top 10 RB list and they actually come in at No. 2 and No. 3.

Henderson had a great 2023 season with 926 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Ohio State might have to rely on the run game more in 2024 with a new quarterback under center as well.