The SEC is known as the king of all college football conferences, but it could also be said to be the most accomplished rushing conference. It had the highest rush yards per attempt and most rushing touchdowns per game of any conference last season and was in a virtual tie with the Big Ten for most rush attempts per game (38.2 for SEC, 38.9 for Big Ten) and rush yards per game (175.4 for SEC, 177.9 for Big Ten).
The key to being the FBS leader in these categories is to have an elite set of "bell cow" running backs, or dominant lead running backs. That leads to an obvious question: If the SEC is the best rushing conference, who is the SEC's best bell cow running back?
Let's set some parameters to define this. The first of these is to limit the analysis to those running backs who had at least 150 carries in the 2010 season -- the bell cow piles up the carries -- and are returning to their team for the upcoming season.
That gives us the following list of six bell cow candidates (listed alphabetically): Vick Ballard (Mississippi State Bulldogs), Brandon Bolden (Ole Miss Rebels), Knile Davis (Arkansas Razorbacks), Michael Dyer (Auburn Tigers), Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina Gamecocks) and Tauren Poole (Tennessee Volunteers).
Here are their overall rushing statistics from last season:
That gives a general guide as to each back's performance level, but for the sake of this discussion, these runners will be given points for where they rank in five categories that gauge ground production in a variety of ways. The top running back in each category will receive six points, with second place getting five and so on down to one for last place. The points will be tallied at the end to determine the winner.