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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Big run plays could decide Rose Bowl

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

A glance at Oregon's rushing statistics this season should strike fear in any defensive coordinator facing the Ducks.

Starting running back LaMichael James averages 6.9 yards a carry. Starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli averages 5.7 yards a carry. Backup running back Kenjon Barner averages 5.6 yards a carry. And then there's LeGarrette Blount, who in 2008 set a school record among 1,000-yard rushers by averaging 7.3 yards a carry. As a team, Oregon averages a whopping 5.5 yards per rush.

The Oregon offense is synonymous with big running plays, especially on first down. The Ducks rank second nationally in rushes of 10 yards or more with 101 on 514 attempts (19.7 percent). Oregon leads the nation in first-down runs of 10 yards or more, doing so 19.5 percent of the time.

Ohio State, meanwhile, is extremely adept at stopping big run plays, especially on first down. The Buckeyes lead the nation in fewest runs of 10 or more yards allowed with just 23 on 377 attempts (6.1 percent). They're especially stout on first down, allowing just 2.68 yards a carry, which leads the nation.

Something has got to give when these two teams meet Friday in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi (ABC, 4:30 p.m. ET).

If Ohio State can limit big run plays, it should have a good shot at forcing Oregon into some mistakes. But if James, Masoli, Barner and even Blount get in the open field, it'll be a long day for the Scarlet and Gray.

Thanks to ESPN's Stats & Information for these nuggets.