Okay, we've labeled the run game on either side and the run defense on the opposite team as maybe the greatest indicator of who wins the 2016 Bedlam showdown for the Big 12 Championship.
Most would consider Oklahoma and the run tandem of Joe Mixon and Semaje Perine as having the advantage, but dismissing the ever emerging Cowboys running duo of Justice Hill and Chris Carson would be a mistake. In the past five games, since the return of Carson from a wrist injury, the Cowboys have rushed for 230 yards (Kansas), 180 yards (Kansas State), 210 yards (Texas Tech), and 334 yards (TCU). Those are huge numbers for a team that averaged all of 126.8 yards a game last season and in the 2015 Bedlam game only rushed for 132 yards.
Hill, a freshman from Tulsa's Booker T. Washington and an All-State player for the Hornets last season, has been the best answer running the football since fall camp. He seemed to hit a wall around the West Virginia game, but is still leading the team and breaking freshman rushing records every week already with 171 carries for 943 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 85.7 yards a game and 5.5 yards a carry.
He has picked it up since the Kansas game as the return of Carson has lightened the load and Carson has been better since that return than at any other time since arriving from Butler County C.C. They both crushed it in the TCU game with Carson carrying for 146 yards and a touchdown and Hill doing a lot of work with 154 yards on 16 carries.
You can look at the average and factor in the earlier performances this season but I'm not sure they will give you the best sense of where the Oklahoma State rushing attack is at this stage of the season.
Oklahoma prides itself on stopping the run and the Sooners, while ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense allowing 287.5 yards a game, are number two in the conference in halting the run at 155.6 yards allowed per game. Now that said, West Virginia crushed OU running the football in the last game as Mountaineers junior college transfer Justin Crawford ran for 331 yards on the OU defense.
Oklahoma linebackers Jordan Evans and Emmanuel Beal, who also sneaks up and plays like a defensive end on the front line, are the two leading tacklers on the Sooners defense with Evans having 81 stops and 8.0 tackles for loss. Beal has 71 total tackles.
It will be interesting to see how Oklahoma attempts to stop the run like they have much of the season or with the focus on needing to bolster the pass defense against OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph and the likes of James Washington, and the Cowboys receivers leave them vulnerable to be run on by Hill and Carson.
My thought on this is that rushing yards are always more controlling yards.