Over the next few weeks, a panelist of Scout.com Big Ten reporters will be breaking down the conference position-by-position.
Today we look at the running back spot, where Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon edged out Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah for the top spot in the Big Ten. Separated by just one point, the two ran away from the rest of the league.
The reporters were asked to rank the top five, with five points going to the No. 1 spot, four to No. 2, three to No. 3, and so on.
1.) Jr. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: 49 points (7 first-place votes)
Gordon only carried the ball over 20 times twice in 2013, but averaged 7.8 yards per carry. With James White gone, it's likely Gordon's workload will increase in 2014. Gordon hasn't shown to be a receiving threat out of the backfield, but if the junior can add the dimension to his game, it's likely he will be New York as a finalist for the Heisman.
2013 stats: 206 carries for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns.
2.) Sr. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: 48 points (4 first-place votes)
Abdullah was the model of constancy in 2013, rushing for over 100 yards in 11 of 13 contests. After earning third-team All-American honors last season, Abdullah tested the NFL waters by getting his draft grade from the NFL Advisory Committee. Eventually the Alabama native decided to return. If Abdullah can duplicate his 2013 season and the Huskers slightly improve record wise, there is a chance the senior will be a Heisman finalist.
2013 stats: 1,690 yards and nine touchdowns on 281 carries. Also had 26 receptions for 232 yards and two scores.
3.) Sr. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State: 29 points
After only getting nine carries his sophomore season, Langford burst on to the scene in 2013, rushing for more than 100 yards in a school-record eight-straight games. It's unlikely he gets as many carries as he did in 2013, but will have more than enough work to rack up a lot of yards. Based off of multiple spring quotes from the senior, it appears Langford is still hungry to improve on his numbers from last year.
2013 stats: 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns after rushing 292 times.
4.) Sr. David Cobb, Minnesota: 13 points
While his season started off somewhat slow, Cobb got fed the rock down the stretch, seeing at least 17 carries a game in the Gophers last seven contests. Doing the majority of his work in Big Ten play, if Cobb has a couple solid performances in the non-conference portion of the schedule, 1,500 yards isn't out of the question this season for the senior.
2013 stats: 1,202 yards on 237 attempts, finding the end zone seven times.
5.) Jr. Tevin Coleman. Indiana: 11 points
The junior is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball, but missed time in 2013 with an ankle injury that kept him under 1,000 yards. With the improvement of the Hoosiers offense and Coleman healthy, it's wouldn't be a stretch to see the Illinois native on a first or second all-conference team at the end of the year.
2013 stats: 131 carries for 958 yards, rushing for 7.8 yards per carry.
The voter panel: Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com, Ben Worgull of BadgeNation.com, Brice Marich of GopherDigest.com, Josh Harvey of BigRedReport.com, Mike Wilson of SpartanDigest.com, Nicholas Medline of PurpleWildcats.com, Jeff Svoboda of BuckeyeSports.com, Fletcher Page of IlliniPlaybook.com, Sam Hellman of ScarletReport.com, Beth Long of Scout.com, and Rob Howe of HawkeyeInsider.com