Arizona Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey, after rushing for 172 yards in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15, has only been able to sit and watch as several players took aim at his national-leading rushing average.
None has come close.
There is only one player in the six remaining bowl games who can catch Carey — his fellow consensus All-American Kenjon Barner.
The Oregon senior needs 306 yards in Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State to eclipse Carey’s 1,929 rushing yards and average of 148.38 per game.
The NCAA determines its rushing champ based on average per game, but Carey also holds the lead in total yards over those who have played one more game (such as Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Northern Illinois’ quarterback Jordan Lynch).
Exceeding 300 yards isn’t unprecedented for Barner, who torched USC for 321 yards on 38 carries earlier this season. Kansas State’s run defense is tough — ranked 17th in the nation (119.17 yards allowed per game) — but the speedy Barner can quickly spin his rushing total higher in Oregon’s explosive offense. The Ducks can make any defense look bad.
In Kansas State’s only loss of the season, the Wildcats yielded 185 yards on 19 carries to Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, a transfer from Oregon. Seastrunk had an 80-yard scoring run in the Bears’ 52-24 victory. No other team rushed for more than 175 yards against Kansas State.
Carey would be Arizona’s first NCAA rushing championship since Art Luppino in 1955.
If he holds on to the rushing lead, his 1,929 rushing yards will be the most in the FBS since UConn’s Donald Brown went for 2,083 in 2008.