Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/14/11

Last week I took a look at the Doak Walker Award Semifinalists and where they stood, in my eyes.

Following the weekend of games, a few things have changed including a major injury to one semifinalist. 

Here are the basics on the award, including who I believe the favorites are:

THE AWARD:

On Thursday, December 8th 2011 the Doak Walker Award will be given out to the nation’s most elite running back for a combination of accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community.

This combination of academia, athletic prowess and the requirement that the recipient must be on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification, makes it – in my eyes – one of premiere awards a College Football player can be awarded.

Unlike the Heisman, the Doak Walker Award is given purely based on the aforementioned criteria. It is not a popularity contest, not an unspoken prerequisite that your team must be contending for the National Championship, you must excel on and off the field.

The Semifinalist: 11/13 Update


Montee Ball, Wisconsin

185 rushes – 1242 yards – 23 touchdowns

Per game averages: 18.50 rush attempts  –  124.20 yards. (6.71 yards per rush)

Receiving: 14 receptions for 234 yards – and 4 touchdowns.

Last Game: Ball went up against Minnesota this past weekend where he had 23 carries for 166 yards and two touchdowns.  Minnesota is the 101st ranked rush defense in the country.

Up Next: Ball and the Badgers travel to Illinois to take on Fighting Illini.  Illinois has the 23rd ranked rush defense in the country.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 11/05: Purdue (90th) – 20 rushes 223 yards 3 TDs
  • 11/12: Minnesota (101st) – 23 rushes 166 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/01: Nebraska (66th) – 30 rushes 151 yards 4 TDs
  • 10/15: Indiana (118th) – 14 rushes 142 yards 3 TDs
  • 9/10: Oregon State (85th) – 18 rushes 118 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/22: at Michigan State (12th) – 18 rushes 115 yards TD
  • 9/17: Northern Illinois (93rd) – 20 rushes 91 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/24: South Dakota – 15 rushes 88 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/29: at Ohio State (27th) – 17 rushes 85 yards TD
  • 9/01: UNLV (71st) – 10 rushes 63 yards 3 TDs

 

Rex Burkhead, Nebraska

212 rushes – 1072 yards – 14 TDs

Per game averages: 21.20 rush attempts – 107.20 yards (5.06 yards per rush)

Receiving: 15 receptions – 130 yards – 2 TDs

Last Game: Nebraska and Burkhead went up against a very stingy Penn State defense ranked 28th in the country against the rush.  The senior had a very solid game versus the Nittany Lions, finishing with over 100 yards and topping 1,000 yards on the season in the process.

Up Next: Nebraska will travel to Michigan next week to face the 36th ranked rush defense in the Wolverines.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/24: at Wyoming (116th) – 15 rushes 170 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/29: Michigan State (12th) – 35 rushes 130 yards 2 TDs
  • 11/12: at Penn State (28th) – 25 rushes 121 yards TD
  • 9/17: Washington (61st) – 22 rushes 120 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/08: Ohio State (27th) – 26 rushes 119 yards TD
  • 10/22: at Minnesota (101st) – 23 rushes 117 yards TD
  • 10/01: at Wisconsin (47th) – 18 rushes 96 yards TD
  • 9/03: Chattanooga – 11 rushes 75 yards TD
  • 11/05: Northwestern (79th) – 22 rushes 69 yards TD
  • 9/10: Fresno St (87th) – 15 rushes 55 yards 2 TDs

 

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

223 rushes – 1278 yards – 13 TDs

Per game averages: 24.78 rush attempts – 142.00 yards (5.73 yards per rush)

Receiving: 18 receptions – 209 yards – TD

Last Game: San Diego State barely escaped versus Colorado State on Saturday, winning 18-15, and in the process Hillman did not help his chances at winning the Doak Walker Award versus the 113th ranked rush defense in the country.  Hillman only managed 80 yards on 24 carries and did not get into the end zone.

Up Next: San Diego State will welcome the reeling Boise State Broncos next week to town.  Boise is ranked as the 39th rush defense, but Hillman will have an opportunity in a high profile game to make another strong push.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/29: Wyoming (116th)– 25 rushes 224 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/17: Washington St (63rd) – 32 rushes 191 yards 4 TDs
  • 9/03: Cal Poly – 28 rushes 189 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/13: at Air Force (111th) – 27 rushes 172 yards 2 TDs
  • 11/05: New Mexico (120th) – 29 rushes 141 yards TD
  • 9/10: at Army (73rd) – 17 rushes 117 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/24: at Michigan (36th) – 21 rushes 109 yards
  • 11/12: at Colorado State (113th) – 24 rushes 80 yards
  • 10/08: TCU (33rd) – 20 rushes 55 yards

 

LaMichael James, Oregon

153 rushes – 1207 yards – 12 TDs

Per game averages: 19.13 rushes – 150 yards (7.89 yards per rush)

Receiving: 13 receptions – 175 yards – TD

Last Game: Last year’s Doak Walker Award winner had a high profile Saturday, dominating the Stanford Cardinal, and knocking them from the ranks of the unbeaten.  Stanford has been solid versus the rush this season (ranked 7th in the country in the category), but James had 146 yards on the ground on 20 carries and found the end zone three times.

Up Next: The Oregon Ducks – and James – will have another high profile game next week versus the 8th ranked rush defense in the country the Southern California Trojans.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/24: at Arizona (81st) – 23 rushes – 288 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/06: California (29th) – 30 rushes – 239 yards TD
  • 9/17: Southwest Missouri St – 12 rushes – 204 yards 3 TDs
  • 11/05: at Washington (61st) – 25 rushes – 156 yards TD
  • 11/12: at Stanford (7th) – 20 rushes – 146 yards 3 TDs
  • 9/10: Nevada (59th) – 12 rushes – 67 yards TD
  • 9/03: LSU (3rd) – 18 rushes – 54 yards TD
  • 10/29: Washington St (63rd) – 13 rushes – 53 yards
  • DNP versus California or at Colorado

 

Henry Josey, Missouri

145 rushes – 1,168 yards – nine touchdowns.

Per game averages: 14.50 rushes – 116.80 yards (8.06 yards per rush)

Receiving: 10 receptions – 91 yards

Last Game: Unfortunately Josey did not get to enjoy the defeat of the Texas Longhorns Saturday as he went down with an injury.  It was announced by Missouri that Josey tore his patellar tendon, as well as his MCL and ACL.  Thoughts and prayers are with Josey as he hopefully makes a full and expedient recovery.

Next Game: Out for the Season

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/17: Western Illinois – 14 rushes – 263 yards – 3 TDs
  • 10/29: at Texas A&M (20th) – 20 rushes – 162 yards – TD
  • 10/22: Oklahoma State (88th) – 25 rushes – 138 yards
  • 9/24: at Oklahoma (35th) – 14 rushes – 133 yards – TD
  • 11/05: at Baylor (112th) – 15 rushes – 132 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/15: Iowa State (104th) – 19 rushes – 129 yards – TD
  • 9/09: at Arizona St (54th) – 9 rushes – 94 yards
  • 10/08: at Kansas St (26th) – 12 rushes – 55 yards – TD
  • 9/03: Miami (OH) (78th) – 5 rushes – 43 yards
  • 11/12: Texas (10th) – 11 rushes 19 yards

 

Zach Line, SMU

208 rushes – 1,224 yards – 17 TDs

Per game averages: 20.80 rushes – 122.40 yards (5.88 yards per rush)

Receiving: 15 receptions – 139 yards

Last Game: SMU lost 24-17 to Navy – the 82nd ranked rush defense – but Zach Line had another solid performance.  Line went over 100 yards rushing for the eighth time this season.

Next Game: Line has the opportunity to gain some eye-popping numbers next week versus Houston.  The Cougars have given up rush yards in boat loads and is ranked 86th in the country against the rush.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/22: at Southern Miss (30th) – 22 rushes – 163 yards
  • 11/05: Tulane (76th) – 25 rushes – 143 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/24: at Memphis (93rd) – 20 rushes – 136 yards – 3 TDs
  • 11/12: Navy (82nd) – 24 rushes – 135 yards
  • 9/04: at Texas A&M (20th) – 22 rushes – 128 yards – TD
  • 10/01: at TCU (33rd) – 21 rushes – 120 yards
  • 10/29: at Tulsa (46th) – 22 rushes – 118 yards – TD
  • 9/10: UTEP (83rd) – 20 rushes – 114 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: Northwestern St – 16 rushes – 85 yards – 5 TDs
  • 10/15: UCF (16th) – 16 rushes – 82 yards – 2 TDs

 

Chris Polk, Washington

216 rushes – 1,132 yards – 10 TDs

Per game averages: 21.60 rushes – 113.20 yards (5.24 yards per rush)

Receiving: 25 receptions – 280 yards three TDs

Last Game: Chris Polk and the Washington Huskies traveled to Southern Cal Saturday where they fell by a score of 40-17.  Washington wasn't able to stay in the game long, which lessened Polk’s carries.  This was, by far, his worst game of the season, against the Trojans defense, ranked 10th nationally versus the run.

Next Game: Chris Polk and the Huskies travel to Oregon State next week.  Oregon State is the 85th ranked rush defense in the country so the possibility for him to put up some big numbers exist.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/01: at Utah (9th) – 29 rushes – 189 yards
  • 10/22: at Stanford (7th) – 15 rushes – 144 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/29: Arizona (81st) – 34 rushes – 144 yards – 4 TDs
  • 9/17: at Nebraska (66th) – 22 rushes – 130 yards – TD
  • 9/03: Eastern Washington – 23 rushes – 125 yards
  • 10/15: Colorado (80th) – 18 rushes – 117 yards
  • 9/10: Hawaii (38th) – 22 rushes – 107 yards – TD
  • 11/05: Oregon (56th) – 24 rushes – 80 yards
  • 9/24: California (29th) – 20 rushes – 60 yards – TD
  • 11/12: at Southern Cal (10th) – 9 rushes – 36 yards – TD

 

Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

169 rushes – 993 yards – 21 TDs

Per game averages: 16.90 rushes – 99.30 yards (5.88 yards per rush)

Receiving: 32 receptions – 204 yards – 2 TDs

Last Game: Oklahoma State absolutely destroyed the Red Raiders of Texas Tech Saturday, with most starters getting extra rest starting at different points in the third quarter.  The Pokes offense put on a passing bonanza Saturday, so there was not many rushing opportunities.  Randle did get 18 rushes for 78 yards and most importantly found the end zone for his 19th, 20th and 21st rushing touchdowns of the season.

Next Game: Next week Oklahoma State takes on the 104th ranked rush defense in the country, the Iowa State Cyclones.  Expect big numbers again, not only from the entire team, but from Randle as well.  He will need a big game to stay in the race.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/29: Baylor (112th) – 14 rushes – 152 yards – 4 TDs
  • 10/22: at Missouri (52nd) – 14 rushes – 138 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/03: Louisiana-Lafayette (55th) – 22 rushes – 129 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: at Tulsa (46th) – 25 rushes – 128 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/08: Arizona (81st) – 15 rushes – 121 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/24: at Texas A&M (20th) – 21 rushes – 83 yards
  • 11/12: at Texas Tech (117th) – 18 rushes – 78 yards – 3 TDs
  • 11/05: Kansas St (26th) – 16 rushes – 73 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/15: at Texas (10th) – 17 rushes – 68 yards – TD
  • 10/08: Kansas (119th) – 7 rushes – 23 yards – TD

 

Trent Richardson, Alabama

204 rushes – 1,205 yards – 18 TDs

Per game averages: 20.40 rushes – 120.50 yards (5.91 yards per rush)

Receiving: 25 receptions – 318 yards – TD

Last Game: Alabama stuck with what has worked the best for their offense all season Saturday – running the ball.  Trent Richardson carried the rock 32 times versus Mississippi State, the 69th ranked rush defense in the country, finishing with 127 yards and a touchdown.

Next Game: Next week Trent Richardson will get maybe a half worth of work – if he is lucky – versus Georgia Southern.  For the record – Georgia Southern is the 23rd best rush defense in the Football Championship Subdivision. 

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/15: at Mississippi (108th) – 15 rushes – 183 yards – 4 TDs
  • 10/01: at Florida (45th) – 29 rushes – 181 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: North Texas (64th) – 11 rushes – 167 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/24: Arkansas (74th) – 17 rushes – 126 yards
  • 9/10: at Penn State (28th) – 26 rushes – 111 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/08: Vanderbilt (32nd) – 19 rushes – 107 yards – TD
  • 11/05: LSU (3rd) – 23 rushes – 89 yards
  • 10/22: Tennessee (68th) – 17 rushes – 77 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/03: Kent State (23rd) – 13 rushes – 37 yards – 3 TDs

 

David Wilson, Virginia Tech

210 rushes – 1,360 yards – 7 TDs

Per game averages: 21 rushes – 136 yards (6.48 yards per rush)

Receiving: 16 receptions – 99 yards – TD

Last Game: David Wilson made a statement last Thursday night versus Georgia Tech on primetime television, rushing 23 times for 175 yards.  There is starting to be a clear separation between the top of the Doak Walker list and the bottom, and David Wilson is part of that top group.

Next Game: Virginia Tech will go up against North Carolina – the 18th ranked rush defense in the country – next week.  With North Carolina and then Virginia left on the schedule, David Wilson will be looking to move up this award list.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 11/10: at Georgia Tech (75th) – 23 rushes – 175 yards
  • 9/03: Appalachian St – 16 rushes – 162 yards – 3 TDs
  • 10/29: at Duke (67th) – 23 rushes – 148 yards
  • 9/10: at East Carolina (89th) – 25 rushes – 137 yards
  • 10/15: at Wake Forest (53rd) – 17 rushes – 136 yards – TD
  • 10/22: Boston College (62nd) – 17 rushes – 134 yards – TD
  • 9/24: at Marshall (72nd) – 26 rushes – 132 yards – TD
  • 10/08: Miami (FL) (69th) – 23 rushes – 128 yards
  • 10/01: Clemson (90th)– 20 rushes – 123 yards
  • 9/17: Arkansas St (21st)– 20 rushes – 85 yards – TD

 

WHERE I WOULD RANK THE BACKS:

  1. David Wilson – Virginia Tech
  2. Trent Richardson – Alabama
  3. LaMichael James – Oregon
  4. Joseph Randle – Oklahoma State
  5. Montee Ball – Wisconsin
  6. Rex Burkhead – Nebraska
  7. Zach Line – SMU
  8. Ronnie Hillman – San Diego State
  9. Chris Polk – Washington
  10. Henry Josey – Missouri
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