Nick Chubb-Ezekiel Elliott debate is ridiculously close

Who is the top running back in the country? The difference between the Georgia and Ohio State stars is next to nothing.

| 2 years ago
Nick Chubb

(AP Photo/David Stephenson)

Nick Chubb-Ezekiel Elliott debate is ridiculously close

Who is the best running back in the country?

After a year’s worth of PFF college data, it comes down to just two names: Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott.

And the difference between the two in our rating system is 0.1.

Chubb gets the ever-so-slight nod, as he comes in with an 89.0 rating. Elliott is just a fraction of a point behind at 88.9. So, how do you separate the two? Most of it comes down to which type of running back you prefer.

As a pure runner, Elliott has the slight edge, as his 91.6 run rating leads the nation heading into 2015. He picked up 989 of his 1,883 yards after contact (3.6 per rush). While he was strong all season long, it was his work in the last three games of the season that really put him over the top, as he ran for 689 yards in his last three games — the Big Ten Championship and both playoff games — while averaging 9.1 yards per carry during that stretch. With that kind of finish, he’s going to give Big Ten headaches every week this fall.

As for Chubb, it’s his receiving skills that vaulted him over Elliot by that tenth of a point, as his 86.5 receiving rating ranks seventh among running backs (Elliott is at 72.9). And Chubb is no slouch as a runner, either, as his 85.9 mark ranks fourth in the country.

No matter where he gets the ball, Chubb is the most difficult running back to tackle in college football. His 108.5 elusive rating was tops among FBS running backs, and he pairs it with impressive breakaway ability that saw him pick up 52.1 percent of his yards on runs of 15 or more yards, fourth-most in the nation.

If you’re looking for pure running, Elliott is your guy, particularly after his impressive performance during the College Football Postseason. But no running back in the country is as versatile as Chubb with his ability to shed tacklers and also make an impact in the passing game. We’ll see if one of these guys gains a little more separation on the other in 2015.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Nick Cortez

    How did Fournette’s last 4 games compare with Chubb and Elliot?

    • StubbornThing

      In his last six games Fournette averaged 5.64 yards per carry with 4 TD’s.

      Chubb averaged 8.15 yards per carry with 9 TD’s.
      Elliot averaged 8.18 yards per carry with 11 TD’s.

      Not close at all.

      • Nick Cortez

        I appreciate the response. I typically find that YPC and TD counts aren’t the best stats to use when evaluating running backs. YAContact, broken tackles, and quality of defense typically weigh in heavily when I evaluate backs.