Six running backs will loom large in Fiesta Bowl

Buffaloes meet Ducks

By Bob Baum

Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When it comes to carrying the football, Colorado counts on a herd of Buffaloes and Oregon a dynamic duo of Ducks.

No fewer than six running backs could loom large in today's Fiesta Bowl.


Third-ranked Colorado uses four tailbacks in an offense that ranks eighth nationally in rushing at 228.5 yards per game. Three of them -- Chris Brown, Cortlen Johnson and Bobby Purify -- have at least three 100-plus-yard games this season. A groin injury early this season sidelined redshirt freshman Marcus Houston, who had a 16-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma State.

"We're just in a situation where we have four really good backs and we're not redshirting any of them," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "We have four guys who have worked really hard, have fit our system and have all had hot days. I don't think we have any more running backs than any other team, we just play more of them,"

Second-ranked Oregon built its reputation on passing, but this season's Ducks have two 1,000-yard rushers -- Maurice Morris (1,010) and Onterrio Smith (1,031).

"They took more pressure off me than I've ever experienced," quarterback Joey Harrington said. "Having two 1,000-yard rushers behind me has put me in a position where I don't have to make plays all the time. It was terrific going out there and knowing I wasn't going to have to wing it every time."

Operating behind an offensive line that might be the best in college football, Colorado rushed for 380 yards in its 62-36 shocker over Nebraska, then gained 223 the following week in a 39-37 victory over Texas in the Big 12 title game.

In both victories, Brown led. He rushed for 198 yards and a school record six touchdowns against Nebraska, then gained 182 yards and three touchdowns against Texas.

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