8. California Golden Bears
Brendan Bigelow was the third-string back behind C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele last season, but in limited action, showed why he was rated so highly coming out of high school. Bigelow passed up the Huskies to stay home and play for Cal. This season, he’ll be the feature back in Berkeley, and has the potential to put up big numbers for the Bears.
9. Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffaloes didn’t see much team success, but there was reason for optimism in Boulder. Christian Powell rushed for over 600 yards as a freshman last season and will take over full-time duties this year. Those 691 yards came on just 158 carries, and Powell missed two games. With a full season and a heavier load, Powell could be a 1,000-yard rusher this season.
10. UCLA Bruins
Like Stanford, UCLA loses one of the Pac-12’s best rushers from a year ago. Jonathan Franklin helped transition freshman quarterback Brett Hundley to the Pac-12 tremendously. Now, Franklin is departed and Hundley will be the one transitioning players into UCLA’s system. Redshirt freshman Paul Perkins and junior Jordon James are expected to see the bulk of the carries before senior Damien Thigpen returns midway through the season.
11. Utah Utes
The loss of John White hurts a Utah team that relies on its running attack heavily. The Utes will turn to oft-injured power back Kelvin York for the majority of the carries, but there are a multitude of backs that could emerge as coach Kyle Wittingham’s secondary back.
12. Washington State Cougars
Under coach Mike Leach, the Cougars average 29 rushing yards per game last season, ranking 124th out of 126 FBS teams. Don’t expect much to change in year two, though projected starter Teondray Caldwell did average a promising 4.8 yards per carry as a freshman last season.