You want to know who is going to win the game on Dec. 3 and claim the 2016 Big 12 football championship? A tremendous indicator will be which team runs the football the most effective.
Both teams have good running backs as, honestly, even with the OU tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon being more highly touted and rated, the duo of freshman Justice Hill and rapidly developing senior Chris Carson will also, in our opinion, be in NFL training camps. That will be next season for likely Perine, Mixon, and Carson and in time for Hill. The success of the running game on Dec. 3 will also be in the hands of the supporting cast and the defenders trying to get the stop.
On the Oklahoma State offensive side, the offensive line has made tremendous strides and is playing really well, but a massive contributor to the success of the run game and efforts like the combined 300 yards of rushing that Hill and Carson stacked up against TCU has been Cowboy back Zac Veatch.
The senior and former tight end in high school and offensive guard at Oklahoma State has made his contributions in about as visible a way as you can as a blocker – open field and downfield blocks out where fans and television analysts can easily see his blocking.
Veatch is still 6-3, 265 pounds, and while a capable and trusted pass receiver, he is blocking well at the line of scrimmage, in a power situation as a lead blocker out of the backfield, or especially in mobile situations where he is downfield on a linebacker or safety and often puts them on the ground either with power or using a cut block.
His partner at Cowboy back Blake Jarwin is also blocking well, but Veatch is a specialist at the duty.
Against the Sooners his target could often be former Edmond Santa Fe standout Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. The 6-2, 245-pound Okoronkwo is a very athletic defensive end/linebacker combo guy in the OU 3-4 defense. He is also the big play tackler for the OU defense with 7 sacks and 8.5 tackles for losses.
Okoronkwo has become a good read guy in meeting run plays at the line of scrimmage or sometimes behind. For success in the run game he has to be neutralized.
The number of times Veatch gets in Okoronkwo's grill and keeps him out of the play or the number of times Okoronkwo can avoid getting blocked and get to plays may go a long way toward deciding the game of the year in Big 12 football.