Just when it looked like the Oklahoma State Cowboys' running game couldn't get much worse, the Pokes made a switch at running back against Iowa State. Jeremy Smith, a senior averaging about three yards a carry, was demoted and junior Desmond Roland was given the start vs. the Cyclones.
The results were instantly gratifying. Roland rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start.
Iowa State's run defense has been porous, ranking 110th in the nation (per NCAA.com). Still, Roland provided a spark for the Cowboys offense by barreling up the middle of the field, shedding tackles left and right.
Against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday, Roland has a chance to pick up where he left off.
The Red Raiders are much better against the run than Iowa State, but they have also given up 200 yards or more against two opponent: Oklahoma and TCU.
Let's start with the Horned Frogs, first. TCU's offense has had trouble scoring all year, and one of the myriad problems has been with the offensive line. That O-line did better paving the way for the run against the Red Raiders, but a little less than half of the 207 yards the Frogs gained on the ground were from scrambling quarterback Trevone Boykin.
The real cause for concern came against the Sooners in Week 9. Oklahoma, as it has since Blake Bell became the starting quarterback, used its power running game to wear down Texas Tech's defensive front. Of Oklahoma's 227 yards rushing, almost all of it came after contact.
That could spell bad news for Tech once again if Roland gets, um, rolling.
Tech has been generally sound in the tackling department, but there's only so much a three-man defensive front can do. If Oklahoma State can run effectively, it will require Tech to bring additional defenders to stop it. That should, in theory, open up several more possibilities on offense for the Pokes.
Win or lose, the matchup of Oklahoma State's newfound run game and Texas Tech's defense should favor the Cowboys.