ESPN.com's Brian Bennett completed his list of Top 25 Big East players and Dion Lewis finished at the top. As expected, some weren't happy with the choice, thinking WVU's Noel Devine should be first.
It got me to thinking - just who IS better?
Lewis: 325 attempts, 1,799 yards, 5.5 yard average, 25 catches, 189 yards, 18 TDs
Devine: 241 attempts, 1,465 yards, 6.1 yard average, 22 catches, 177 yards, 14 TDs
The first thing you can throw out immediately is rece a iving. Both have practically identical numbers in that department.
Looking at rushing, you see that Lewis got about 85 more attempts. That number is fairly surprising considering that Pitt had a capable backup in Ray Graham who got a fair number of carries. Pitt also had a fairly reliable passing game and could have relied more on that instead of giving a heavy workload to a true freshman.
WVU fans will point to the yard-per-carry as proof of Devine's superiority. However, I'd counter that argument by saying the more carries a running back has, the more a defense will key on him and prepare themselves to defend against the run.
Here's why I think Lewis is the better back:
1. He has a nose for the end zone. His 18 TDs were almost as much as Devine had in his entire career. Yes, Devine was a backup as a freshman, but with over 200 attempts in 2008 as a sophomore, he only found the end zone four times.
2. He was more dominant in conference play. When the non-conference schedule ended, Lewis was at his best. He finished the regular season with seven straight 100-yard games and averaged 142 yards in conference playing. He only failed to reach 100 yards against a Big East opponent once - and that was against Louisville when Ray Graham received a season-high 12 carries. Devine, on the other hand, was only able to gain 100 yards in TWO conference games. Further, several times he was shut down (42 yards against South Florida, 65 yards against Rutgers, 56 yards against Louisville).
3. He rushed for nearly 350 yards more. Part of this goes into the attempts, but to have that many more yards, you've got to be given that many more carries. To stay healthy and be able to do that has to count for something.
All in all, both are fine backs. But I give the nod to Lewis.