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Big 12 Seeks Offensive Balance

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With Bryce Petty, Baylor surely will throw all over the field, but Shock Linwood and the running game are an overlooked important piece of the Bears offense, and could be the element that helps them contend for a College Football Playoff spot. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.
With Bryce Petty, Baylor surely will throw all over the field, but Shock Linwood and the running game are an overlooked important piece of the Bears offense, and could be the element that helps them contend for a College Football Playoff spot. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

If you check the 2013 NCAA rushing statistics, you will not see a single Big 12 team in the Top 25 in rushing. You have to go all the way down to No. 30. Lache Seastruck sits there with 1,117 yards. The only player close after that is Kansas running back James Sims at No. 40

To say the Big 12 isn't a running conference is an understatement. Big 12 teams dominate overall offensive stats by passing.  If you noticed, the teams that seemingly are in the national championship games year in and year out have two common factors: good defenses and good running games.  

Auburn may have been the exception to the rule on the defensive end, but not in the running department. Auburn led the nation last season by averaging almost 330 rushing yards per game, unheard of in this day and age for a team that doesn't run the triple option.  

Auburn threw the football when it needed to, but the running game was its bread and butter. The Tigers bashed Alabama and Missouri at the end of the year by pounding the ball on the ground, which helped them get to the national championship game.  

Florida State had a Heisman Trophy quarterback in Jameis Winston, but still finished 28th nationally in rushing. The three recent Alabama national championship teams all ran the ball exceptionally well.

Balance helps when you go against teams who fling it all over the field. Sometimes you need to take the air of the ball and keep the other team on the bench in order to win a game.  

You give the ball to your best running back, they run out the clock, game over.   

If a team from the Big 12 is going to make it to the four-team playoff, they better establish a good running game. Hey, it worked for Baylor. A more balance offense helped lead them to a conference championship and a Fiesta Bowl last season.

The Bears still threw the bowl all over, but at the end of the games when they needed it, they handed the ball off to Seastruck or Shock Linwood and let them run down the clock.  

Establishing a good running game this season may be the difference between a team making it to the College Football Playofff or the Cotton Bowl.