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Arizona Wildcats sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey is within reach of becoming the program’s first NCAA rushing champion since 1955.
He jumped to a tie for second nationally in rushing after his record-setting performance Saturday in a victory over Colorado.
Carey, who entered the game 17th nationally with an average of 112.8 rushing yards per game, set school and Pac-12 records by running for 366 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries against the Buffs.
“Carey was able to find our gaps and go a long way,” said Colorado linebacker Derrick Webb.
“He’s aggressive and explosive on tape and it showed today. He can see a gap, burst through it, and then it’s off to the races.”
Carey is tied nationally with Toledo’s David Fluellen with 138.1 rushing yards per game. Carey has six fewer carries (224), so he has a slightly better per-carry average of 6.17. They trail Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, who is averaging 143.6 yards per game and has only a 55-yard edge overall.
Art Luppino — the Cactus Comet — was the last NCAA rushing champion from Arizona. He won back-to-back titles, first with 1,359 yards in 1954 and then with 1,313 yards in 1955.
Carey won’t have an easy time of it this week at Utah, which has one of the best defensive fronts in the conference, led by defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
The Utes are ranked 18th nationally against the run (111.6 yards per game), although Washington’s Bishop Sankey rushed for 162 yards on 36 carries in a win over Utah on Saturday night.
After that comes the regular-season finale vs. Arizona State, whose run defense is not great statistically (177.1 yards allowed per game), but defensive tackle Will Sutton is a force in the middle of the line.
Keep in mind that bowl games count in the NCAA stats, too, so the rushing race might not be decided until the BCS championship game, where Oregon’s Kenjon Barner (136.0 yards per game) could be playing.