Earlier this morning I saw a tweet from ESPN Big XII reporter Jake Trotter that really intrigued me.
Take out the Baylor game, and the Big 12 was outrushed this bowl season, 1,445-to-556.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 4, 2016
This stat is deceiving, because the best Big XII rushing performance is eliminated and the worst rushing defense (ours) is allowed to remain. I took a look at the LSU numbers, and as a team the Tigers rushed for 384 yards on 40 carries. That's an average of 9.6 yards per carry. We only had 30 total rushing yards. That's bad. Originally I thought it was just us being outrushed heavily, but I took a look at the stats from several other bowl games as well.
In the Sugar Bowl, Ole Miss rushed for 207 yards on 37 carries, and Oklahoma State only 63 yards on 30 carries. While not a rushing beatdown to our level, this is still a massive disparity. In the playoff game between Oklahoma and Clemson, Clemson rushed for 312 yards on 58 carries. That's over 5 YPC, which is a great way to lose a game. Oklahoma didn't break 70 total rushing yards on the day (including sacks). Even Baylor, who rushed for over freaking 600, gave up 244 on the ground to the Tar Heels.
I'm not sitting here telling y'all that the Big XII is doomed and we all need to switch to I-Formation attacks, both Clemson and Ole Miss ran the ball effectively out of spread formations. What I am telling you is that the high-flying attacks of all the Big XII schools depend heavily on the run, and when they can't run, that's a problem. The worse portion of the stat isn't giving up 1,689 (including Baylor) on the ground, our teams are geared for those types of games. The issue is Baylor outrushing literally everyone else in the conference. We were normally able to score our points, and we weren't.
Texas Tech's individual rushing defense is a whole other animal. We nearly gave up a first down per every LSU carry. It's understandable, all our best players are young, but if we want to have success and more importantly, sustain success, we need to be able to stop the run and run the ball moderately well. I'm a big believer in stats never telling the whole story, but I think this stat best describes what happened.