Who is the best running back in college football? Heading into the 2017 season, two main candidates emerge as the frontrunners when this discussion comes up — Penn State's Saquon Barkley and LSU's Derrius Guice.
If you believe Vegas oddsmakers, Saquon Barkley is in the third tier of Heisman favorites heading into the season, tied with Washington's Jake Browning and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield for the third-best Heisman odds behind USC's Sam Darnold and Louisville's returning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson from Louisville.
Derrius Guice isn't at the top of that list, but make no mistakes about it, he belongs in the discussion for the best running back in college football.
Here's a look at the widely considered top two backs in college ball:
2016 Rushing stats
The 2016 season saw Barkley get nearly 100 more touches that Guice, but he only rushed for 109 more yards and 3 more touchdowns. Guice split time with eventual fourth overall draft pick Leonard Fournette, who rushed 129 times for 843 yards and eight scores on the season.
If Guice gets a full season as a featured back, is it possible he breaks 2,000 yards and/or 20 touchdowns? Fournette nearly did both for LSU in 2015 (1,953 yards, 22 touchdowns). LSU wants to get more creative on offense this fall so there's a good possibility Guice's carries don't skyrocket from what they were in 2016, but he'll still get plenty of looks.
In LSU's final four games of the season last fall, Guice ran for a combined 750-plus yards and 8 touchdowns, including 285 yards and four scores against Texas A&M.
Barkley, meanwhile, has the benefit of a pass-friendly offense that is much more balanced than LSU's attack, but he still put up nearly 1,500 rushing yards last season, including 194 yards in the Rose Bowl against USC and a 200-yard outing against Maryland earlier in the year.
He's a complete running back who can hurt you in a multitude of ways. He gives the Nittany Lions and quarterback Trace McSorely a huge advantage, as he's a three-down back who can stay on the field at all times.
2016 Receiving stats
As you'd expect, Barkley gets more opportunities in the passing game. He caught 28 passes and scored four receiving touchdowns last year while Guice caught less than 10 passes and only scored once through the air (again, in split time with Fournette, who caught 15 passes for 146 yards).
Derrius Guice is the better "pure RB" while Saquon Barkley is a more versatile threat. It's kind of a cop out, but each of these guys suits their team's needs perfectly.
Penn State has a quarterback who can let it loose down the field, and having Barkley as both a runner to set up play action and a safety outlet in the passing game is a huge advantage.
Guice, meanwhile, is a power back in a power run offense who has the horses to break a long run.
If you had to make me choose one to suit up for a college football game, I'd probably take the bruising Guice. If you wanted me to draft one onto an NFL roster, the versatile Barkley would be higher on my draft board.
Tell us who you think is the best RB between Barkley and Guice: