Ranking Ben Tate Among the All-Time Auburn Rushers


[Edit 2013-01-13: See the updated list including Onterio McCalebb, Cam Newton, and more accurate stats.]

A couple of years ago, I ranked the Top Auburn Running Backs. I thought I would revisit the topic since Ben Tate just completed a solid 2009 campaign and his career at Auburn.

This had been prompted by an online poll and I looked at the results of that poll in a second post. Feel free to look at it.  I’m focusing here on updating my rankings and sharing new thoughts.  I am including all relevant text and commentary from the original post in order try and keep key details together, like the methodology at the end of this post.

So let’s dive into the updated chart.  I used the old numbers and grabbed Ben Tate‘s stats from ESPN’s website.  I also didn’t drop Bostic even though he dropped out of the top 10 for comparison. Note that some numbers are different from before as I was able to get some better stats.

Name Career
RY
Career APY Career TD Season RY Season APY Season TD Game RY Score Old Score
Bo Jackson 4303 4892 45 1786 1859 17 290 152.97 154.74
Carnell Williams 3831 5084 46 1307 1718 17 204 119.19 120.19
James Brooks 3523 4496 30 1314 1800 10 226 103.99 103.80
Joe Cribbs 3368 4561 35 1205 1336 16 250 100.07 100.02
Stephen Davis 2811 3178 34 1263 1355 17 246 86.98 90.25
Ben Tate 3321 3843 24 1362 1606 10 184 75.06
Brent Fullwood 2789 3758 24 1391 1512 10 207 70.96 74.08
Rudi Johnson 1567 1637 13 1567 1637 13 249 67.73 67.79
Ronnie Brown 2707 3390 30 1008 1189 14 224 64.44 66.36
Kenny Irons 2186 2430 17 1293 1459 13 218 53.95 57.04
James Bostic 2084 2254 18 1205 1245 12 211 43.16 44.25
  • Season stats refer to the best season
  • Game stats refer to the best game
  • APY: All-Purpose Yards
  • RY: Rushing Yards
  • TD: Touchdowns
  • Records highlighted in bold.

Looking at Tate’s Career

Overall, a solid career, ranking 6th on the list.  He had the 4th best single rushing season and the 5th best career total rushing yards.  His all-purpose yards weren’t that strong, but neither was the offense during most of his tenure.

One thing jumps out at me, the high number of yards.  He clearly rushed for more than Stephen Davis.  What Tate is missing is touchdowns. Ben Tate was not a touchdown machine.  He averaged less than a touchdown a game in his best season. He is also missing a real signature game.  Sure, he hit 184 yards against Arkansas in 2009, but that was a loss and he didn’t hit the magic 200 barrier.

Tate does have the edge on Fullwood.  Their scoring is similar, but Tate has the edge in yardage.  Fullwood’s All-Purpose Yards pull close to Tate, but Tate clearly has the edge in career yards.

Just imagine if Tate hadn’t been in a dysfunctional offense for his sophomore and junior seasons.

My Methodology

There is a method in my madness. I took the categories above and ranked them in two ways. The first gave 10 points to the holder of the record, and the remaining got a fraction of that based on their score. For example, Carnell’s score for career rushing yards was 8.90.

The second gave points for top-ten finishes in each category, with the number one ranking getting 10. If someone ranked in the top ten more than once, they got more points. This led to Bo racking-up big points for top games as he as the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th biggest rushing games in Auburn history.

Also, while I didn’t account for this, let’s remember that today’s back have more games per season. While that may wear them down, it gives them more raw numbers.

Some season numbers may not be career highs for a person if their best season came when a better back led the way. If you find any of that, let me know and send me a link to the source.

Fun Fact: The record for most rushing yards in a game? Curtis Kuykendall ran for 307 yards at Miami on November 24, 1944. He did it on 33 attempts and got 4 touchdowns. It was World War II though, so the competition probably wasn’t all that impressive.

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One thought on “Ranking Ben Tate Among the All-Time Auburn Rushers

  1. Pingback: Top Auburn Running Backs, 2012 Edition | Pie on Sports

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