The Big Ten is living up to its long-time reputation as a league based on strong rushing attacks.
There's Wisconsin junior Melvin Gordon, who leads the nation in rushing yards per game (174.2). There's Nebraska senior Ameer Abdullah, who leads the nation in overall rushing yards (878). There's Minnesota senior David Cobb, who is on pace to set school rushing records and is sixth nationally in rushing yards per game (144.4). That trio has combined for seven 200-yard games, with Abdullah having three and Cobb and Gordon two each.
But there's another Big Ten tailback arguably as "hot" as any runner in the nation: Indiana junior Tevin Coleman.
Coleman (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) has had seven consecutive 100-yard games dating to last season, the longest such streak in the nation; he also has had 14 consecutive games with a rushing TD, which also is the longest such streak in the nation. He leads the nation in yards from scrimmage per game at 193.6. He is second nationally in rushing yards per game (168.2) and fourth with total rushing yards (841). Finally, cfbstats.com shows that Coleman is second nationally, behind only Gordon, in rushes of at least 30 yards (he has seven, one fewer than Gordon -- and two more than Georgia's Todd Gurley).
Coleman will look to remain productive Saturday against Iowa, which is third in the Big Ten in rushing defense (93.2 yards per game) and has allowed just two rushing touchdowns, tied for fifth-fewest in the nation. Coleman hasn't had a carry against the Hawkeyes in his career.
"He's really tough and hard-nosed," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters this week about Coleman. "He's fast; he's quick. If you look at the top four guys in the Big Ten right now, they're all clipping along pretty well and they're all pretty good backs."
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks has been impressed by Coleman: "There is always a place in the NFL for a big running back capable of being a three-down player. Thus, scouts are excited about the potential of Coleman. ... Given how much evaluators value a 'complete' running back with a tough disposition, Coleman is a prospect to watch going forward."
Coleman was one of the best 100-meter sprinters and long-jumpers in Illinois when he was in high school in the Chicago area. Last season, when he missed the final three games with an ankle injury, he had five rushes of at least 50 yards (tied for second-most nationally), eight of at least 40 yards (tied for the most) and nine of at least 30 yards (tied for fourth-most). And of his 12 rushing TDs last season, six covered at least 40 yards.
Coleman also has shown promise as a receiver. He has 13 catches this season, for 127 yards, and 42 in his career, for 391 yards. He has starred in a wide-open, up-tempo offense that features numerous three- and four-receiver sets.
Coleman is on a pace to rush for 2,018 yards, which would easily break the single-season school record of 1,805 yards of Vaughn Dunbar in 1991; Dunbar was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in '92. IU has had just one running back drafted since Dunbar; Steve Lee went in the sixth round to the Baltimore Ravens in 1997. IU has had just 24 players drafted overall since that 1992 draft.