Big XII Football: The Shift Back To Running The Ball?

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 8: Running back Damien Williams #26 of the Oklahoma Sooners tries to outrun defensive back Antwain Mathews #16 of the Florida A&M Rattlers on September 8, 2012 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma won 69-13. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

The underlying theme of the Big XII is that it has always been a pass first league. This in turn means that running the ball has become a secondary option. For years now, teams across the Big XII have recruited hybrid or "tweeners" at linebacker to defend skill players in the spread offense. One thing that we all know is that football is always evolving into something more than it is now evidenced by the fact that the wishbone dominated an era many here will remember. We now see the spread offense trickling down to all levels of play. Could a shift back to a run oriented offense be upon the Big XII?

Editor's Note: Let, me start off by saying this is complete speculation at this point.

When you take a peek a the last five teams to win a national championship, there is an overwhelming theme. All five champions have come from the SEC, a conference that is known for it's defenses as well as the ability to run the ball in a power rushing attack. This is something that has been taken note of, but how does that affect the Big XII?

Rushing Yards Leaders

RK TEAM ATT YDS YDS/A LONG TD YDS/G
1 Air Force 129 774 6.0 63 10 387.0
2 UCLA 93 687 7.4 78 4 343.5
3 Oregon 115 663 5.8 51 9 331.5
4 Georgia Tech 113 661 5.9 79 7 330.5
5 Kansas State 100 612 6.1 95 9 306.0
6 Oklahoma State 74 595 8.0 42 10 297.5
7 Ball State 95 581 6.1 75 7 290.5
8 Ole Miss 93 567 6.1 39 4 283.5
9 LSU 98 558 5.7 60 7 279.0
10 Oklahoma 78 554 7.1 89 9 277.0

*Passing attempts: Kansas State - 39, Oklahoma State - 97, Oklahoma - 69

Three teams from a traditionally pass heavy league are ranked in the top ten nationally through two games in total rushing yards. This is a huge jump for the Oklahoma Sooners as well as the Oklahoma St. Cowboys who found themselves in the middle of the road after last season ranking 50th and 51st respectively. All this lends a hand to the notion that each of these teams are moving in a direction that says they want to establish the run.

This, of course, will in turn set up the passing game. It is when a defense makes the opposing offense one dimensional that wins are scarce. This has been the story for the Big XII on the national spectrum as the conference has been beat out multiple times in the National Championship game by the SEC or Pac 12. Something has to give or others will need to be content with settling for runner-up.

The definition of insanity is attempting the same thing over and over while expecting different results. The Big XII may have finally woken up and smelled the coffee. While the Heisman winners and national rankings are great, the conference demands National Championships. To get there, the rushing attack must become a crucial part of the game.

The full evolution of this trend in the Big XII may be a couple of years out. Recruiting will be the tell all sign that the conference has officially begun that transition out of the pass heavy into a balanced attack. But, it will not be told by the recruiting of running backs as well as quarterbacks. Instead the story will unfold as the recruiting turns to bigger and more physical defensive linemen along with bigger more traditional linebackers who are gap savvy instead of possessing the ability to run sideline to sideline.

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