You will be hard pressed to find a running back in college football right now who has been more productive on a more consistent basis than Ka’Deem Carey with the Arizona Wildcats. Despite his eye-popping stats and impressive film, though, Carey has struggled to get the attention he has deserved over the last two seasons. In 2012, Carey couldn’t even make the final cut for the Doak Walker Award despite leading the nation in rushing. This year, he lost out to Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams. While the Pac-12 and All-American honors are nice, Carey deserves to be treated like the best running back in the nation. On December 31, he’ll get a chance to make his case as he shares the field with Williams and the Boston College Eagles in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
Looking at Carey’s career, it’s difficult to understand why he’s been overlooked so often. In 2012, he led the nation with 1,929 yards rushing, averaging 148.38 yards per game and scored 23 touchdowns as he averaged 6.37 yards per carry. Despite those numbers, though, Carey was overlooked by the Doak Award, getting passed over for fellow Pac-12 backs Kenjon Barner of the Oregon Ducks and Johnathan Franklin of the UCLA Bruins as well the eventual winner, Montee Ball of the Wisconsin Badgers. While he won the rushing title, Carey didn’t get a lot of other recognition for his breakout season.
In 2013, he came back and had an even better season. While he missed the first game of the year for a rocky offseason, Carey finished second in the country averaging 156.0 yards per game on the ground as he racked up 1,716 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 5.33 yards per carry. He rushed for more than 100 yards in every game he played this season (and for 15 straight games dating back to 2012) as he became a workhorse back for Rich Rodriguez in 2013. While he may have lost some carries to dual-threat quarterback B.J. Denker, Carey was even more effective this season than when he won the rushing title in 2012.
But Carey has been overshadowed by the exceptional season of Williams with BC. The senior Eagle back broke the 2,000-yard mark in 2013, rushing for 2,102 yards this season, averaging 175.17 yards per game and 6.39 yards per carry while scoring 17 touchdowns. His effort got him the Doak Walker Award this season and an invitation to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation, though he finished a distant fourth to Jameis Winston in the final vote. Williams has broken out as a major star this season with huge games and carrying Boston College to the bowl season this year.
Both Carey and Williams have separated themselves as elite running backs in the college football landscape. Which of them is superior, however, is a debate that is worth having and should continue through the AdvoCare Bowl matchup at the end of the month. In a battle of the best running backs in the country, can Carey make his case as the best in the nation?