Oklahoma RB Perine ready for Bedlam
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma's Samaje Perine rumbled for a major-college record 427 yards rushing in his last outing.
There may be more where that came from Saturday, when the 18th-ranked Sooners (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) face rival Oklahoma State (5-6, 3-5). When Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was asked how he might use the 243-pound bruiser with breakaway speed against the Cowboys, he had plenty of answers.
''Well, hopefully, right, middle, hopefully passing and a little bit of everything we like to do,'' Stoops said.
Perine leads the Big 12 with 1,428 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. He's already broken Adrian Peterson's school record for rushing touchdowns for a freshman, and he has an outside shot at Peterson's major college record for yards rushing by a freshman in a season.
Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is concerned.
''I think giving it to him does everything,'' he said. ''It helps out their defense and special teams. He gives them a mentality that they can control the game. I've got a lot of respect for him.''
It seems that anyone carrying the ball for Oklahoma has been finding daylight lately. Oklahoma ran for 510 yards against Iowa State on Nov. 1, 384 against Texas Tech on Nov. 15 and 510 against Kansas on Nov. 22, three of the top four efforts during Stoops' 16-year tenure in Norman. The Sooners have adopted more of a ground-and-pound style since quarterback Trevor Knight went down with a neck injury and Sterling Shepard has been in and out of the lineup with a groin injury.
Oklahoma State doesn't appear equipped to handle the potential onslaught. The Cowboys have allowed 209.4 yards rushing per game during their five-game losing streak, including 317 yards at Baylor in their last game, a 49-28 loss.
Here are some things to watch when the Sooners face the Cowboys:
KEEPER TIME? Oklahoma quarterback Cody Thomas will start his third game in place of the injured Knight. He ran for 103 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech, then spent much of the Kansas game handing off to Perine. With defenses keying on Perine, Thomas could find some daylight on read plays. He also could see some favorable matchups in the passing game with safeties committed to stopping Oklahoma's run game.
RUDOLPH SHINES: Oklahoma State's freshman quarterback made his debut last game against Baylor and passed for 281 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He impressed Stoops.
''I thought he showed a lot of poise,'' Stoops said. ''He showed that the moment wasn't too big for him. He handled the offense at the line of scrimmage well and he made some nice downfield throws. I thought he threw the ball really well.''
RETURN GAMES: Oklahoma's Alex Ross has averaged 33 yards per kickoff return and has two touchdowns, forcing teams to find ways to keep the ball away from him. Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill averages 24.4 yards per kickoff return with two touchdowns and ranks second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards.
SHEPARD'S STATUS: Oklahoma's top receiver Shepard has missed most or all of the past four games with a groin injury. Oklahoma coaches, who are becoming frustrated with the situation, are taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding his availability. Without Shepard, Oklahoma's passing game has ground to a near halt.
PASS PROTECTION: Both teams are good at getting to the passer. Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah is tied for the Big 12 lead with a sack per game, and Oklahoma's Eric Striker is fourth with 0.64 sacks per contest. Oklahoma leads the nation with just six sacks allowed, while Oklahoma State ranks last in the league, surrendering more than three per game.
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