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December 31, 2007
Defenses get no luxury of concentrating on one phase of the Oklahoma State offensive attack. The Cowboys rank ninth nationally in both total offensive yards and rushing yards. That means they spread it out well as evidenced by the closeness of the team's total passing yards (2,859) and rushing yards (2,950) on the season.
Like Indiana, the Cowboys will feature a spread attack. The option is probably more of weapon for the Big 12 team and that could spell trouble for Indiana which struggled midseason against that weapon (see Illinois game). Like Kellen Lewis, Zac Robinson can run the ball (6.2 yds/carry) but he is nearly 30 pounds and a couple inches bigger than the Hoosier sophomore.
"In the option aspect, they are similar to Illinois," said Tracy Porter yesterday. "Once they spread out and throw the ball, I think they're definitely closer to a Northwestern, because they have big guys on the perimeter that can run and catch the ball. They have a running back that can hurt you with the option as well as running between. If I could compare them, I would definitely say they are a combination of Illinois and Northwestern."
The ability of the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Porter and 5-foot-9, 168-pound Leslie Majors to handle 6-foot-4, 220-pound Adarius Bowman is obviously part of what the senior corner was referring to. The veteran corners can cover well but like their own James Hardy does to opponents, Bowman still can make the catch with smaller defenders on him. But Bowman has the added dimension of being big and explosive enough to shed tacklers. That is why his often mentioned as a potential first round NFL pick next April.
Speaking of size in receivers, Indiana also has to worry about 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The Cowboys throw to the junior about three times per game and his 15.7 yards per catch is quite impressive for a tight end. That is one reason he is getting some mention as someone who could jump to the NFL a year early.
Pettigrew might be better known for his fine blocking abilities and the Cowboys are especially tough when they line him up on the left side with 6-foot-5, 295-pound guard David Koenig and 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle Russell Okung. The senior Koenig was a Rivals.com first team All-Big 12 selection and despite being just a sophomore, Okung was named honorable mention Big 12 by the Associate Press and other media outlets.
Of course the guy who takes advantage most of those fine blockers is senior tailback Dantrell Savage. The former juco is just 5-9 and 195-pounds but has averaged over six yards a carry since arriving in Stillwater. He runs the ball on average 20 times per game.
Sun Devil Stadium seats 73,752 and most of the seats are expected to full tonight. Indiana sold in the vicinity of 10,000 themselves and the game is well attended by Phoenix area fans. Since we have been here it has been obvious that the game is well promoted. Another thing noticeable was the frequent number of Indiana fans around Sun Devil Stadium and Tempe yesterday. You know fans are enthusiastic about a game when they come by the day before to check out the surroundings.
Unfortunately many Hoosier fans back home won't be able to catch the game on television unless they head out to an establishment with DirecTV or Dish Network. That is because the game is being broadcast by the NFL Network which like the Big Ten Network is mostly available only to small dish consumers. Central Indiana fans did get good news recently when Indianapolis Fox affiliate WXIN (Channel 59) worked out a deal with the NFL Network to air the game live.
If you can't get the game at home, be sure to check out our Places to Watch IU page for locations near you that are likely to have the broadcast. You can also check out our Game Day forum tonight for in-game play updates and fan commentary on the action.