Rivals Mike Huguenin put together a list of the best duos (at positions that require 2-plus players) across the NCAA, and in each FBS conference.
The Big Ten:
|RB||Wisconsin||John Clay||Zach Brown|
|WR||Illinois||Arrelious Benn||Jarred Fayson.|
|OG||Ohio State||Justin Boren||Bryant Browning|
|OT||Iowa||Bryan Bulaga||Kyle Calloway|
|DT||Penn State||Ollie Ogbu||Jared Odrick|
|DE||Ohio State||Thaddeus Gibson||Cameron Heyward|
|LB||Penn State||Navorro Bowman||Sean Lee|
|CB||Purdue||Brandon King||David Pender|
|S||Ohio State||Anderson Russell||Kurt Coleman|
When is the last time they made any Big Ten list and it had nobody from Michigan? The thing is, at this moment, I think there's only one spot I can disagree with them on.
All stats are from 2008. If there are any Wisconsin fans on the board, please, enjoy.*
That's two solid squads. Team 1 certainly had more attempts, and more yards per attempt. But Team 2 got just one fewer touchdown in over 50 fewer carries, giving Team 2 a scoring ratio of 7.7 percent to Team 1's 5.5 percent. In other words, Team 2's runs were cut short more often by crossing the goal line. Team 2 also was far more productive in receiving.
Overall, they're pretty comparable.
Team 1 is Wisconsin, i.e. John Clay and Zach Brown. As for Team 2, that's Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown. As effective as we imagine our two senior running backs to have been last year, they were at or just under the production of Wisconsin's duo. Both teams leaned heavily on the run, though out of different schemes. Both had defenses stacked against the run for much of the season. The biggest differences, obviously, were (1) the schemes (Wisconsin does a lot of I-form versus RR's spread-n-shred), which I think accounts for the difference in scoring ratios; and (2) injuries to Michigan's junior backs limiting the amount of carries.
I didn't include McGuffie and Shaw, who between them (receiving and rushing) did this:
But I also didn't include P.J. Hill, who had 1161 yards and 13 TDs on 226 carries, plus another 72 yards on 7 receptions.
I had high hopes for Minor and Brown to produce at an undeniably better clip. The TD ratio thing is a good sign, but it's not so significant a difference to be a valid reason for bumping the two seniors over the Badgers two juniors (Clay's RS soph FWIW).
So Wisconsin wins the tailback duo spot. BG is a certain contender for All-Big Ten at DE, but what's on the other side? I guess if we're gonna win a positional tandem spot in the conference, then, I'd go with Kicker/Punter. Sure, Kicking Competency Lopata is gone and we have no idea what the kicking situation will be. But this is one of those Wilt Chamberlain-and-Joe Ruklick-once-combined-to-score-100-points-in-a-game things.
* It is my firm belief that the favorite conversation of any Wisconsin fan (aside from the awesomeness of Brett Favre) is comparing Badger and Wolverine running backs. Who's got more heart, P.J. Hill or Mike Hart? Would you rather be trucked by A-Train or Ron Dayne? If you needed 3 yards and couldn't pass it would you rather have Brian Calhoun or B.J. Askew in there? Hey, what you doing tonight? Wanna get together and compare the Yards-After-Contact stats of Anthony Davis to Chris Perry? I have met many Wisconsin fans, and every time this same conversation seems to come up. It is theory.