You really want to know who wins Bedlam for the Big 12 championship next Saturday, then tell me who has the most success running the football because in the end I think that will be the greatest indicator of a winner. Both sides should be a little fearful on that indicator and at the same time a little confident.
Oklahoma fans can see Joe Mixon and Semaje Perine running through, over and around the Oklahoma State defense. After all, Mixon is the second-leading rusher in the Big 12 with 157 carries for 1,084 yards for an average of 6.9 yards a carry with seven rushing touchdowns but another four as a receiver and another on a return for 12 touchdowns overall.
Perine has only played in eight games this season as he had to fight through an injury but he has carried 142 times for 735 yards (1,819 yards combined) and 10 rushing touchdowns (17 rushing touchdowns combined). Both backs are big, fast, and confident about dealing with any obstacle a defense presents.
Both have pleasant memories of Oklahoma State, at least last season. Perine had an ankle injury and a fumble in his freshman season and a Cowboys Bedlam win in overtime, but last season in Stillwater Mixon carried 14 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns while Perine had 17 carries for 131 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run.
This season Oklahoma State hasn't exactly been a wall against Big 12 teams trying to run the football. Kansas State had 345 yards rushing on the Cowboys, a lot of that with the quarterback run, which Oklahoma has not done as much this season with concussion worries with Baker Mayfield. OSU is sixth in the Big 12 in rushing defense with an average of 192 yards a game. The good news is Oklahoma State is getting better and in the 31-6 win over TCU held the Frogs and their very solid run game to 145 yards rushing.
Linebackers go a long way toward being the run stoppers. The Cowboys have older and more mature defensive tackles and even in the 3-3-5 that they have played a lot more as of late they can use Vincent Taylor and Mote Maile up front or go more athletic with extra speed in Tralund Webber, Jarrell Owens and Cole Walterscheid, any two of those three up front with a bigger guy in the middle.
Coming up from linebacker a fresher player in Justin Phillips has been racking up tackles and turnovers in the last two games and he is a partner in crime at the second level of the defense with very active Devante Averette.
This will be interesting to see if the Oklahoma State defensive improvement continues and the Cowboys do a better job of containing MIxon and Perine. That would need to be a main ingredient to winning the game or preventing the game from going into a total shoot-out mode.