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OSU football: Running attack will be just as big in Fiesta Bowl

Cowboys, Stanford each have good backs to balance out the offense
BY GINA MIZELL Published: December 18, 2011
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/articleid/3633170/1/pictures/1591271">Photo - Joseph Randle (1) outruns Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson (1) during the Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Joseph Randle (1) outruns Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson (1) during the Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

We saw just how crucial that part of the Cowboy offense is during OSU's last two games.

In the Cowboys' double-overtime loss at Iowa State, they ran for just 60 yards. The offensive line graded out poorly. Randle fumbled twice and was benched. That forced Weeden to throw 58 passes, and he was picked off three times.

Running the ball became a focal point of the Bedlam game plan for Mike Gundy and the rest of the coaches, both because they wanted to keep the Cowboy defense off the field and because they did not think Oklahoma would expect that type of attack.

The result? Randle and Smith both went over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in OSU's 44-10 throttling of the Sooners.

Having the same success against Stanford will be a challenge for OSU, as the Cardinal ranks fifth in the nation in rushing defense (90.33 yards allowed per game).

Conversely, the Cowboys give up more than 180 rushing yards per game. But the sometimes misleading yards allowed stats connected to the OSU defense have been well-documented all season.

All eyes will understandably be on Luck and Weeden on Jan. 2. But the ground game, not the air attack, will likely decide which team wins the Fiesta Bowl.


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