The ground game proved to be the deciding factor in Oklahoma State's 42-3 smashing of Southwest Missouri State Saturday night. The Cowboys raked in 264 rushing yards and five touchdowns, four of which running back Tatum Bell powered into the end zone for a career high.
"It appeared that he (Bell) made some hard runs," said OSU coach Les Miles. "That last touchdown, he was not going to be denied. He spun into that end zone; that's kind of an unusual move."
Bell rushed 21 times for 143 yards in the game, including a 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game away for the Pokes, 35-3.
"Oklahoma State has great talent with Bell at tailback," said SMS safety Kailan Williams. "Their offense is great, and — from what the score shows — their defense is really good, too. Their offense obviously has weapons that you won't find on the I-AA level."
The Cowboys managed to get two backs, Bell and Seymore Shaw, over the 100-yard plateau Saturday — a feat that had not been duplicated since 1998.
"When they're playing two-deep safeties and four people to the pass, the opportunity to run the football is there for you," Miles said.
Shaw crossed the century mark on a 53-yard touchdown run late in the game to put the final points on the board. Shaw carried 10 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.
"Tatum Bell is a good player, but the guy I was really impressed with was Shaw," said SMS coach Randy Ball. "That guy is quick, he adds another dimension to the running game."
For the Bears, the lack of a running game was their downfall. SMS only tallied 102 yards on the ground compared to 353 in their first game of the season.
OSU's front line stuffed the Bears' backs for most of the game, making it easier on the secondary.
"After you limit an opponent on the ground and force them to the air, it makes it a little easier on that secondary to play the pass," Miles said.
Several players had tackles for losses against the run, including defensive ends Antonio Smith and Greg Richmond, linebackers Pagitte McGee and Lawrence Pinson, safety Elbert Craig and cornerback Robert Jones.
The only success SMS had in the running game was pounding the ball with tailback Cody Pratt. He carried 22 times for 86 yards. The Bears' speedy tailback Tommicus Walker was held to only 24 yards.
"I have played with their running back and everybody on the team knows he is a hard-nosed runner," said OSU safety Jamie Thompson. "Their fullback is very physical and tough as well."
Oklahoma State's Seymore Shaw, left, breaks away from Southwest Missouri State's Kailan Williams, center, and Anthony Sullivan for a 53-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003, in Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State won, 42-3. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)