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October 7, 2008
Power Rankings: Wells back on top
After missing three games with an injured right foot, Wells has gained 274 yards in the past two weeks. Wells' return to form has helped him regain his status as the No. 1 running back in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.
Wells moved ahead of Michigan State's Javon Ringer, who rushed for 91 yards on 25 carries Saturday in a 16-13 win over Iowa. Wells carried the ball 22 times for 168 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 victory at Wisconsin.
"I felt like I got in that zone," Wells said afterward. "The offensive line was doing their thing and (quarterback) Terrelle (Pryor) was doing his thing. Everyone was just clicking tonight."
Wells entered the season as a Heisman Trophy front-runner after closing his 2007 season with a 222-yard performance against Michigan and a 146-yard effort in the BCS Championship Game loss to LSU. Wells' Heisman hopes likely vanished when he was injured in a season-opening victory over Youngstown State, forcing him to sit out games against Ohio, USC and Troy.
But he has come back with a vengeance.
Wells rushed for 106 yards on just 14 carries in a 34-21 victory over Minnesota before delivering his big performance against Wisconsin.
Ohio State handed the starting quarterback job to Pryor during Wells' absence. Pryor and Wells now give Ohio State a dynamic duo in the backfield that could help the Buckeyes win at least a share of the Big Ten title for a fourth consecutive season.
The winning touchdown against the Badgers signaled the difficulty in stopping Ohio State with Pryor and Wells in the backfield. With the Buckeyes facing second-and-8 from Wisconsin's 11, Pryor and Wells both ran around the left end. When a defender headed toward Wells, Pryor kept the ball himself and ran into the left corner of the end zone with 1:08 left in the game.
"Guys really don't know who to key on – me or Terrelle. … You've got two guys who can really run the ball," Wells said.
Wells' move represented the only change at the top of the power rankings this week. Players and coaches remaining atop their respective positions were Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, South Florida defensive end George Selvie, Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith, Florida kick returner Brandon James, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.