Comparing USC’s Ronald Jones II, Stanford’s Bryce Love ahead of Pac-12 Championship


The Pac-12 Championship between USC and Stanford on Friday pits two of the best running backs in the nation — the Trojans’ Ronald Jones II and the Cardinal’s Bryce Love — against one another for the second time this year.

Both backs rank in the top 20 in total rushing yards in the FBS — Love is second at 1,848 while Jones is 16th with 1,346.

The eye test seemingly indicates that Love has the edge over Jones — the Stanford tailback is third in the Heisman Trophy race per Oddsshark at +1000 odds. Love has certainly justified that distinction.

However, the two backs may be closer in talent than meets the eye.

In fact, Pro Football Focus grades Jones slightly higher than Love.

That tweet spurned the Pac-12 Network to tweet out a poll, asking which running back would outshine the other on Friday night.

USC alums have even lamented at the lack of a workload for Jones.

Jones is 9 yards away from passing O.J. Simpson for 5th all-time in rushing in USC’s record book, but he’s done it while averaging only 14 carries per game. Those same greats think that’s a shame.

“He’ll probably take this the wrong way,” former Trojans bruising back LenDale White said, via Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register, “but maybe he was cheated a little bit because maybe if he had gotten the ball more he would’ve made a bigger impact or impression. I know that’s crazy to be said, because he’s about to surpass O.J. and a bunch of these numbers. But he probably could’ve rushed for 2,000 yards (in a season) easy had he gotten more opportunities.”

The numbers for Love, though, are staggering.

According to the Associated Press, the 8.6 yards Love averages every time he touches the ball is the highest-ever mark for an FBS running back with at least 215 carries.

“He’s very patient,” USC safety Chris Hawkins said, per the AP. “They love pitching him the ball straight backward. Usually you get pitches to the outside. They pitch it backward and let him use his eyes and his footwork to good use. If you’re not in your hole, he’s going to find it.”

Of course Friday night is a rematch from Week 2, when USC slammed Stanford 42-24. Jones had 116 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries that night.

That loss only serves as motivation on the Stanford sidelines.

“We started off the season 1-2, backs against the wall,” Love said. “Just a testament to the team that we have. We’re resilient. We fought back. We’ve come a long way. We still have more to prove.”

The post Comparing USC’s Ronald Jones II, Stanford’s Bryce Love ahead of Pac-12 Championship appeared first on Diehards.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.