STILLWATER — No one needed to tell Desmond Roland how Auburn rolled up 545 rushing yards on Missouri in the SEC title game.
The Oklahoma State running back watched it himself.
And got excited.
“Oh, yeah,” Roland said. “I was watching the game and (Missouri) couldn't stop one run. (Auburn was) running simple plays. That made me feel real good.
“I have a good feeling about this game (the Cotton Bowl). Our O-line, I'm sure they do, too, and Jeremy (Smith), Kye (Staley). We're all gonna go into this game motivated.”
Cowboy offensive lineman Parker Graham was a little more careful with his words, noting that Auburn's particular scheme on that particular day worked extremely well against Missouri's defense.
Still, OSU is likely to bring a strong helping of the run game to its Cotton Bowl showdown against Missouri on Jan. 3.
The Cowboys certainly aren't Auburn, the nation's best rushing team at more than 335 yards per game. They don't have a Heisman finalist in Tre Mason, who finished the season with more than 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns, or Nick Marshall, a 1,000-yard rusher at quarterback who has scored 11 times with his legs.
But OSU developed a solid ground attack in the second half of the season, once Joe Wickline found his best offensive line combination against TCU on Oct. 19 and Roland became the starting running back against Iowa State the following week. Even quarterback Clint Chelf became an effective running option on zone-read and draw plays.
That makes OSU's final regular-season rushing stats — 65th nationally at 172 yards per game — a bit deceiving.
One of the lost performances of a wild Bedlam came from Roland, who finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
That doesn't include the 75-yard touchdown run on the game's first offensive play that was wiped out because of a holding call. And the fact that the Cowboys didn't keep pounding the run game — Smith even finished with 42 yards and no carries for negative yards — remains one of the more peculiar developments of Bedlam.
Mizzou's rushing defense — which ranks eighth out of 14 teams in the SEC at 151.8 yards per game — would be in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. But those numbers are also skewed, as the Tigers entered the SEC title game ranked 14th nationally in rushing defense.
Then that unit got torched by the nation's best at running the football. Which means Graham expects adjustments.
But he also expects the Cowboys to continue to attack on the ground.
“They might change up what they do against us,” Graham said of Missouri. “They're gonna have a month to plan for us. Whatever problems they had that day, I'm sure they're gonna fix and be ready to go against us.
“But we do love to run the ball. As an offensive line, that's our favorite thing to do.”