Big 12: LenDale White
David Ubben: First off, no matter what my friends tell me, that movie looks like garbage. But this question is interesting. I'd invite you all to make your own lists, but here's mine.
1) Nate Solder, left tackle, Colorado: First off, at 6-foot-9 and 310 pounds, he's probably the biggest player in the entire league. But he also hang cleans 470 pounds, runs a 4.88 40-yard dash and has a 32-inch vertical leap. He's very high on my list of guys I wouldn't want to face in a jungle death match. And yes, that list exists.
2) Ronnell Lewis, linebacker, Oklahoma: Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has coached some big hitters in his day like Rocky Calmus and Roy Williams. He says Lewis, just a sophomore, hits the hardest. And he hails from tiny Dewar, Oklahoma. Everybody knows you don't mess with country boys.
3) Cody Johnson, running back, Texas: Anybody want to try and tackle him? The Longhorns' 5-foot-11, 250-pound goal-line back is the closest thing to a bowling ball in the Big 12. Steer clear. I know I will.
Who's on your list?
Craig in Wichita, Kan. writes: Two years ago, the Big XII was known for lighting up the scoreboard. Last seasonit was the defenses that took the spotlight. What's going to be the Big XII's signature in 2010?
DU: A conference takes on the identity of its top teams. There's a ton of other great offenses across the Big 12, but look at the top three teams in the league: Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. All three should field top-10 defenses in 2010. So even though there are offenses like Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Missouri, the league's going to be known for defense once again. If that's not enough, look around at the Big 12 representatives on any All-American team. Very few offensive players, but lots of defensive guys like Jared Crick at Nebraska, Aaron Williams at Texas or Travis Lewis at Oklahoma.
Cord in College Station, Texas, writes: As a longhorn living in College Station, I've already heard plenty of "noise" from the A&M faithful about this being their year. I know you're an Aggie, too, and I'm just wondering what you're non-biased prediction for the Aggie season is. Hook'em.
DU: I'm afraid you're mistaken. I've never gigged anything or anyone, but nine wins for the Aggies is probably about right. If I had to pick it, they knock off Nebraska at home, but lose to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. They'll need to spring some upsets to win the South.
Craig in Ames, Iowa, writes: Do you think the recent flooding will help or hurt the Cyclones? Will the team-uniting fight against the adversity help, or will the routine-destroying distraction keep ISU from being ready for the first game against NIU?
DU: I don't think it hurts all that much, but if Paul Rhoads' team isn't already one of the league's closest, this sealed it. Some of the guys on that team have been through three coaching staffs, but finally got to experience some real success last season. Really, Iowa State only missed one practice, and though I'm sure there's some family troubles for a few of the players and some difficulty getting around still, I don't see the floods having much of an effect on the on-field product. But it's definitely a memorable experience that should change the way a lot of those guys see the world.
Tony in Lincoln, Neb., writes: Hey Dave, Just curious. What's the best game you've ever seen/been to?
DU: Of the games I've ever seen, it's pretty close between the Texas-Southern Cal Rose Bowl and the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl. I probably said this about 100 times in the weeks following the game, but the best part of that is the hook-and-ladder never works. Ever. It's a great play in theory, but the execution and timing has such a small margin of error required for success, plus it needs a little luck from the defense's call. That makes it impossible to execute. Except that one time.
I also love the big-time clashes. There was just an unfair amount of talent on the field in that national title game between Texas and USC, two teams who 100 percent earned the right to be there. You don't get that with every national championship.
Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Jamaal Charles, Lendale White, Steve Smith, Fred Davis, Selvin Young and Limas Sweed are all factors in the NFL now, most of whom I've started on my fantasy teams at least once. And that's just the offenses. Can't forget Aaron Ross, Michael Griffin and Michael Huff in the Longhorns secondary alone. Brian Orakpo and Roy Miller also played down in front. It just doesn't get much better than two premiere programs and NFL factories going at it in a game of that magnitude that delivered the drama, even if you could see that final drive coming the whole time.
Of the game's I've covered, I'd probably go with the Kansas-Missouri Border Showdown at the end of the 2008 season. Gotta love rivalry games, and Kansas-Missouri has been one of the most dramatic in recent seasons. That game was no exception. A ton of offensive talent on the field during a blizzard at Arrowhead Stadium. It included four go-ahead touchdowns in the final seven minutes, and finished with a Todd Reesing floater over Kerry Meier's shoulder on -- what else -- a broken play. Classic game with a classic finish.
Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium now has more than 100,00 seats. The Longhorns have a designated successor for Brown in place with rising star Will Muschamp. And that pesky problem with Bob Stoops has been alleviated recently with four victories in the last five seasons over the Sooners.
Times are good for Brown.
Here's a look at the Longhorns’ all-decade team during that time.
QB: Vince Young
RB: Jamaal Charles
RB: Cedric Benson
WR: Jordan Shipley
WR: Roy Williams
TE: David Thomas
OL: Justin Blalock
OL: Jonathan Scott
OL: Derrick Dockery
OL: Leonard Davis
C: Lyle Sendlein
DL: Brian Orakpo
DL: Cory Redding
DL: Shaun Rogers
DL: Casey Hampton
LB: Sergio Kindle
LB: Derrick Johnson
LB: Roddrick Muckelroy
DB: Earl Thomas
DB: Michael Huff
DB: Nathan Vasher
DB: Aaron Ross
P: Richmond McGee
K: Hunter Lawrence
KR: Quan Cosby
Offensive player of the decade: QB Vince Young. The most electrifying player of the decade capped his career by scoring the game-winning touchdown to lead his team to the national championship in his final drive. Brown finished with a 30-2 record, 6.040 passing yards and 3,127 rushing yards.
Defensive player of the decade: LB Derrick Johnson. He wasn’t around when the Longhorns won the national championship, but was perhaps the best player at his position at the school since Tommy Nobis. He capped his career with the Nagurski and Butkus Awards after earning All-America honors in each of his last two seasons.
Coach of the decade: Mack Brown. Remember when people used to joke about his inability to win big games or how he coddled his players. That all changed as the decade progressed. Brown got tougher and made some astute moves at defensive coordinator to help his program take the next step with the addition of coaches like Gene Chizik and Will Muschamp.
Moment of the decade: Vince Young’s run leads comeback victory to the 2005 national championship. Young’s game-winning 8-yard TD run with 19 seconds left boosted the Longhorns to a 41-38 victory over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, providing the margin of victory in one of the greatest college football games in history. Michael Huff’s fourth-down stop of LenDale White on the preceding drive set up Young’s heroics to snap the Trojans’ 34-game winning streak.
The Big 12 has provided a few of latter -- and more -- over the last decade with some of the most entertaining games in recent college football history.
Here are my favorite 10 games of the past decade. There are 10 to 15 other games that legitimately could have been included on this list.
1. Texas 41, USC 38 (Jan. 1, 2006): The Longhorns claimed the 2005 national title with a dramatic comeback capped by Vince Young’s game-winning 8-yard TD run with 19 seconds left. Michael Huff’s critical fourth-down stop of LenDale White set the stage on the preceding drive. And many observers still think that Pete Carroll could have gone for a game-tying field goal attempt on the final play of the game if he hadn't squandered a timeout before a two-point try after Young's TD run.
2. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33 (Nov. 1, 2008): Michael Crabtree’s 28-yard touchdown reception from Graham Harrell with one second remaining capped the wildest victory in Tech history -- made even more improbable after Blake Gideon dropped an interception on the play before Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown.
3. Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (Jan. 1, 2007): The Broncos won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl by fooling Bob Stoops’ team with three gadget plays: a game-tying hook and ladder play in regulation, an option pass from wide receiver Vinny Perretta to Derek Schouman in overtime to pull within one point and a game-winning two-point conversion by Ian Johnson on a Statue of Liberty play. Johnson proposed to his girlfriend, Chrissy Popadics, on the field after the play. After all the excitement, of course, she accepted.
4. Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45 (Sept. 22, 2007): This classic offensive battle produced 62 first downs and 1,328 yards and wasn’t settled until Michael Crabtree dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone in the final minute of play. And we all still remember it more for the fireworks in the press conferences with Mike Leach and Mike Gundy than for what happened on the field, don’t we?
5. Oklahoma 35, Texas A&M 31 (Nov. 11, 2000): Torrance Marshall’s game-winning 41-yard interception return with 7:42 left enabled the Sooners to continue their charge to the 2000 national championship. Oklahoma overcame an 11-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and a 10-point hole with less than 9 minutes remaining. Marshall’s heroics gave the Sooners the lead and the Oklahoma defense did the rest, turning away the Aggies twice deep in Oklahoma territory late in the game.
6. Kansas 40, Missouri 37 (Nov. 29, 2008): Four lead changes in the final 6:52 made this game memorable, even though Missouri had already clinched the North title coming into the game. Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier hooked up five times on the game-winning drive, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left. Missouri had one last hope, but Jeff Wolfert’s 54-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game was partially blocked by Phillip Strozier.
7. Texas 13, Nebraska 12 (Dec. 5, 2009) : In a conference that made its national reputation with wild offensive battles, it was refreshing to see a defensive struggle in the 2009 Big 12 title game. Nebraska, keyed by a ferocious defense that forced three interceptions and sacked Colt McCoy nine times, appeared to have taken control on a 42-yard field goal by Alex Henery with 1:44 left. Ndamukong Suh sacked McCoy a championship-game record 4.5 times. But McCoy withstood the rush and drove the Longhorns for the game-winning field goal after a controversial officiating decision put extra time back on the clock after it appeared the Longhorns had squandered their chance to win. Hunter Lawrence’s 46-yard field goal as time expired gave Texas the victory.
8. Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35 (Nov. 6, 2004): The Longhorns were in a 35-7 hole late in the second quarter before Vince Young hooked up on a 4-yard TD pass to Bo Scaife shortly before halftime. That opened the floodgates, as the Longhorns scored touchdowns on six straight drives. Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and five touchdowns and Vince Young rushed for 123 yards and completed 12 straight passes at one point en route to a then career-high 278 passing yards. The Longhorns piled up 600 yards of total offense in the wild comeback, outgaining the Cowboys 266-to-minus-5 in the third quarter of the comeback.
9. Nebraska 40, Colorado 31 (Nov. 28, 2008): Alex Henery’s school-record 57-yard field goal with 1:43 left gave the Cornhuskers the lead for good in this classic that Colorado needed to win to qualify for a bowl game. And Ndamukong Suh foreshadowed his monster season to come by icing the victory with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown with 55 seconds left.
10. Baylor 35, Texas A&M 34 (Oct. 30, 2004): The Bears had been waiting for a long time for a chance to beat Texas A&M -- particularly after losing 73-10 to the Aggies in College Station the previous season. So it was understandable that Guy Morriss didn’t hesitate to go for the win after pulling within one point in overtime on Shawn Bell’s pass to Dominique Ziegler. Bell and Ziegler then hooked up again for the two-point conversion, snapping an 18-game winless streak to the Aggies.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Title-game clash of the titans remains the Big 12's game for the ages
Date: Jan. 4, 2006
Place: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Score: Texas 41, USC 38
After sorting through the moments that have made the Big 12's history so rich, the most memorable one was easy for me to pick.
|Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire|
|Vince Young threw for 267 yards and ran for 200 more.|
All I had to do was think back to the greatest championship game in any sport that I've ever seen.
Admittedly, those are some strong words. But anybody who witnessed Vince Young's game-winning performance that night at the Rose Bowl against No. 1 USC would have to agree.
Young accounted for a Rose Bowl-record 467 yards, running for 200 yards and passing for 267 more. His 8-yard touchdown run with only 19 seconds left brought home the first undisputed national championship to Texas in 36 years, capping a wild 41-38 victory.
And making it even sweeter for the Longhorns, the victory snapped the 34-game winning streak of a team that was judged as the greatest modern dynasty in recent college football history. USC had two Heisman Trophy winners in its starting backfield in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and scads of NFL-quality talent.
The game that preceded Young's late heroics only made the ending that much more unforgettable.
The Trojans and Longhorns combined for 60 first downs, 1,130 yards of total offense and only four punts. But in the end, a defensive play was the most pivotal in the game.
USC was poised to wrap up the game, nursing a 38-33 lead. On a fourth-and-2 from his own 45-yard line, USC coach Pete Carroll gambled and tried to deliver a kill shot by calling a dive play by LenDale White.
But White was turned away inches short of the first down when he was met by Texas safety Michael Huff and defensive tackle Rod Wright among others.
That provided the opening for Texas' game-winning drive that started with 2:09 left. The Longhorns received a big break when USC defensive back Darnell Bing was flagged for a face-mask penalty after tackling Quan Cosby five yards short of a first down on third-and-12, giving Texas a first down.
Young then accounted for the next 33 yards on runs and passes to give the Longhorns a first down at the USC 13 with 50 seconds left. But after a 5-yard run sandwiched around two incomplete passes intended for Limas Sweed, the Longhorns were looking at a fourth-and-5 from the Trojan 8.
The Trojans gambled with a determined blitz, but Young scooted past them. And thanks to a crunching block from Texas right tackle Justin Blaylock, Young sped toward the right end zone in a serpentine path to the game-winning touchdown.
After Young converted a two-point play, USC had one more chance. Leinart and Bush hooked up on a 27-yard pass that pushed the ball to the Texas 42 for the final play. But Leinart's pass intended for Dwayne Jarrett sailed over his head at the Texas 25 to preserve the wild victory.
USC seemingly moved the ball at will early in the game, piling up a Rose Bowl-record 574 yards in the game. The Trojans struck first barely 2 minutes into the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by White to cap a 46-yard drive.
They were poised to score again when Bush snagged a 37-yard screen pass from Leinart on the second play of the second quarter. But the Heisman Trophy winner inexplicably attempted a sideways pitch to unprepared teammate Brad Walker. Huff fell on the loose ball and the Longhorns took control for the rest of the half.
Texas erupted for 16 straight points, scoring on its next three drives.
The binge started with a 46-yard field goal by David Pino, followed by a 10-yard option touchdown keeper by Young on a disputed play where his knee appeared to hit the ground. And Ramonce Taylor's 30-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 16-7 with 2:34 left in the half.
USC pulled within 16-10 on Mario Danelo's 43-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. It was the fourth time during the season the Trojans trailed at the break.
A 3-yard scoring run by White enabled USC to reclaim the lead, capping a 62-yard scoring drive after Texas had been forced to punt to start the fourth quarter. But Young responded with a 14-yard touchdown run barely two minutes later to boost Texas back ahead at 23-17.
White's 12-yard scoring run boosted the Trojans back into a 24-23 lead after three quarters.
The Trojans' star power then took over. Bush raced on a spectacular 26-yard touchdown run, punctuated by a somersault in the end zone to boost the Trojans lead to eight with 11:19 left.
And after Pino added 34-yard field goal with 8:46 on the ensuing possession, USC's big-play offense struck again. Leinart whistled a 22-yard touchdown strike to Jarrett with 6:42 left to boost the Trojans' lead to 38-26, capping a four-play, 80-yard drive.
But Young was only getting started. He completed 5 of 6 passes and rushed twice for 25 yards on the next drive, capping the possession with a 17-yard scoring scamper that pulled Texas within 38-33 with 4:26 left.
And after his game-winning drive, the excitement from that ending still resonates to that day.
They said it, part I: "We never, ever, really thought we'd lose the ballgame," Texas coach Mack Brown, after his team's dramatic comeback.
They said it, part II: "You couldn't ask for anything better. This was a great football game. We gave our hearts, they gave their hearts and they came out on top." USC quarterback Matt Leinart on the disappointment of losing his final college game.
They said it, part III: "We couldn't stop them when we had to. Their quarterback ran all over the place. This is their night. It was wonderful doing what we've been doing. But we just didn't get it done tonight," USC coach Pete Carroll, on the end of the Trojans' 34-game winning streak.
They said it, part IV: "I still think we're a better football team. They just made the plays in the end." Leinart on Texas' late comeback.
They said it, part V: "The quarterback just ran all over the place. He's a fantastic player. He was the difference. And how classic was it that he ran it in on the last play?" Carroll on Vince Young's late heroics.
They said it, part VI: "Everybody showed so much heart on both sides of the ball. I said all week that it would come down to the last play of the game and it did," Texas quarterback Vince Young on his late-game heroics.
They said it, part VII: "We have Vince Young on the show tonight. We were able to do something USC couldn't do, we grabbed him," Tonight Show host Jay Leno, in his monologue when Young appeared on his show several days after the game.
Factoids: Texas' conquest marked the second Rose Bowl comeback in as many years by Young, who orchestrated a 38-37 triumph over Michigan to account for Texas' first BCS bowl victory the previous season ... Bush accounted for 82 rushing yards and grabbed six passes for 95 yards ... Leinart completed 29 of 40 passes for 365 yards with one interception and was sacked three times ... Young was
30-of-40 passing for 267 yards ... Michael Huff earned game defensive MVP honors with 12 tackles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss ... On Young's controversial touchdown run in the second quarter, the play could not be renewed because of a malfunction for the monitor needed to supply different angles to the replay crew .... Both teams finished with 30 first downs, but USC had a 574-556 edge in total yardage. ... USC's 34-game winning streak that ended with the loss was tied for the sixth-longest in FBS history. The Texas victory was the 800th in school history ... It was the first time that Texas had beaten a No. 1 ranked team since defeating Oklahoma on Oct. 12, 1963.
The upshot: Young's heroics helped boost his record as a starting quarterback to 30-2, finishing with a national championship. He decided to turn pro, informing Brown of his decision four days later.
Texas finished the season No. 1 with a 20-game winning streak. It was the Longhorns' first outright national championship since 1969. And it marked a share of their fourth national championship after claiming titles in 1963, 1969, and a shared one in 1970 with Nebraska.
The Longhorns would stretch their winning streak to 21 games before losing at home to Ohio State in the second game of the 2006 season. That represents Texas' second-longest winning streak in school history, behind only a 30-game streak from 1968-70.
USC has won 34 of their next 39 games since the Texas loss, including Rose Bowl victories to finish each season since then. The Rose Bowl loss to Texas is the only time Carroll has lost a bowl game from 2002 to the present. USC has gone 6-1 in bowl games during that period.
2. Michael Crabtree's last-second grab stuns Texas
3. Superman's leap. Roy Williams' tipped pass punctuates titantic defensive battle.
4. Davison's dramatic grab keeps Cornhuskers' national title hopes alive.
5. Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise State's gadget plays doom OU.
6. Yes, Sirr. Parker's dramatic catches lead A&M to first Big 12 title
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few factoids about Oklahoma's bowl history as we get ready for tonight's FedEx BCS National Championship Game against Florida.
Bowl record: 24-16-1
Current bowl streak: Lost 2
Most memorable bowl victory: Bud Wilkinson directed his team to the 1956 Orange Bowl, wrapping up the first time that the Sooners ever finished the season with a bowl championship and a national championship in the same season. After spotting Maryland a six-point halftime lead, the Sooners charged back to claim a 20-6 victory by scoring the game's final 20 points. Quarterback Tommy Harris rushed for a team-high 50 yards to pace the victory as the Sooners forced five turnovers and limited the Terrapins to nine first downs and 233 total yards.
Most disappointing loss: An explosive offense keyed by Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush enabled USC to dominate the Sooners in a 55-19 loss that ranks as the largest margin of defeat in an Oklahoma bowl game and also for a loser in a BCS title game. Leinart threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns and LenDale White rushed for 118 and two touchdowns to lead the Trojans to their first national championship under Pete Carroll. Oklahoma scored the first touchdown but the Trojans blew the game open by scoring 28 straight points midway through the first half.
Best individual bowl performance: Marcus Dupree rushed for 239 and had the Sooners ahead in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl until he was sidelined with leg injuries that kept him from playing in the rest of the game. Arizona State took advantage of his departure to claim a 32-21 victory over the Sooners, despite Oklahoma rolling up 417 rushing yards.
Record against Florida: First meeting.
Common 2008 opponents: None.
The number: 7. National championship won by Oklahoma in school history - more than any team in the Big 12.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some factoids to get you ready for Texas' Tostitos Fiesta Bowl appearance tonight against Ohio State.
Bowl record: 24-21-2
Current bowl streak: Won 4.
Most memorable bowl victory: Vince Young directed a wild comeback to pace the Longhorns' 41-38 triumph over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, claiming the national championship and snapping the Trojans' 34-game winning streak. The Longhorns trailed 38-26 with 6:42 left, but Young scored on a 17-yard TD run to pull within five points. After Michael Huff stopped LenDale White on a critical fourth-down play, Young directed a masterful comeback, capped by his own 8-yard TD run with 19 seconds left.
Most disappointing loss: Miami ran Texas out of Fair Park en route to a 46-3 triumph over the Longhorns in the 1991 Cotton Bowl. Texas quarterback Peter Gardere was intercepted three times and sacked eight times -- including three by Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland. Craig Erickson torched the Longhorns' secondary for 272 yards and four touchdown passes. The Hurricanes taunted the Longhorns in the tunnel before the game and then lived up to their boasts in a penalty-marred game where Miami was flagged 16 times for 202 yards.
Best individual bowl performance: Young had a performance for the ages in the 2006 Rose Bowl, leading his team to its first national championship in 36 years with a wild comeback over the Trojans. Young finished with 200 rushing yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns and also passed for 267 yards to cap the Longhorns' 13-0 season.
Record against Ohio State: Tied at 1-1. Texas won the first game in the series, 25-22, in Columbus in 2005. Ohio State won the rematch with a 24-7 triumph in Austin in 2006.
Common 2008 opponents: None.
The number: 47. Texas' previous bowl appearances, which leads all Big 12 schools.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|Ronald Martinez/Getty Images|
|Chris Brown leads the Sooners in rushing with 1,110 yards .|
But the steadiness of the underrated Oklahoma rushing leader is the main reason why Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson expects the Sooners to overcome playing without Murray in the FedEx Bowl Championship Series National Championship without many troubles.
"The one guy [Murray] has flash and the other guy [Brown] is just a pit bulldog," Wilson said. "He's just a grinder who comes to work every single day. What you see is what you get, and from him it's pretty good."
Brown led the Sooners in rushing with 1,110 yards and ranked sixth nationally with 20 touchdowns. He will be counted on, along with backup Mossis Madu, to replace the loss of Murray, who ruptured a tendon in his left hamstring on the opening kickoff of the Big 12 championship game and will miss Thursday's game.
The loss of Murray, who rushed for 1,002 yards during the regular season, might be expected to cripple the Sooners with the loss of their top long-distance threat.
Instead, it has only inspired Brown of the opportunity he has playing against the Gators.
Brown compares his running style and Murray's with the vaunted USC rushing game of the 2004 national championship team.
"I don't really like to compare me and DeMarco because we're good friends," Brown said. "But we're two different players. You see him making flashy cuts a little bit like Reggie Bush. I'll take that I'm like LenDale White. DeMarco can make something small into a big play. But I feel I'm more patient and willing to waiting on things to develop. You could call me the conservative runner on our team. "
The ability of Brown and Madu was best shown in the Big 12 title game after Murray went down. Brown rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns and Madu chipped with a career-best 114 yards on 15 carries and three more scores to spark a 62-21 blowout over Missouri.
|Jesse Beals/Icon SMI|
|Mossis Madu (17) will be needed to step up after the loss of DeMarco Murray to an injury.|
Center Jon Cooper said that both remaining backs have the ability to be prime producers against the Gators, who ranked 16th nationally against the rush.
"DeMarco was a little flashier and he would try to make people miss where Chris just runs through them," Cooper said. "And Mossis is a combination of both. He hits the hole about as hard as anybody we've got. I don't know how fast he is, but he's pretty fast. And he's got the balance of Chris and the flashiness of DeMarco."
Florida players have noticed the strength and depth of the Sooners' running game. It makes them concerned about stopping Oklahoma's potent attack even with Murray out of the lineup.
"I don't think not having Murray will slow them down at all," Florida safety Ahmad Black said. "They have another one who comes off the bench who's almost as good. They rotate all of them out there. I don't think they'll take a step back at all. It will be a challenge to stop them."
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford knows that balance will be important for his team's hopes to claim its first national championship since the 2001 Orange Bowl. Along with Tulsa, Oklahoma is the only team to rank in the top 20 nationally in rushing, passing, total offense and scoring.
And Bradford is convinced the Sooners still can consistently move the ball against Florida with their remaining players -- even without Murray.
"Obviously, DeMarco is a big part of our offense and we're going to miss him," Bradford said. "But I think that Mossis and Chris both are very good running backs and we're not going to lose much with them being in there.
"Running the ball like we did in the Big 12 championship game gives us a lot of confidence in what they can do. We see it from Mossis every day in practice and the Big 12 championship was just the first opportunity for him to show everybody else how good he is. It didn't surprise us how he played. And we expect him and Chris to come out and play well again."
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State