Oklahoma State not far from its '80s identity

Mike Gundy had a front-row seat to see two of the best backs in Oklahoma State history, Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, the latter of whom has a case as the best back in college football history. Few, if anyone, knows more or saw more of the so-called "glory days" of Running Back U in Stillwater. Both of those Oklahoma State backs went on to be NFL MVPs.

As Oklahoma State's head coach, Gundy oversees an offense that isn't shy about being a pass-first scheme. Despite that, he's still watching some of the best days running the ball in Oklahoma State history. The best, one could certainly argue, in the Big 12.

Joseph Randle led the Big 12 in rushing by more than 400 yards with 1,417 yards and 14 scores in 2012, electing to leave Stillwater a year early and enter the NFL draft. Quietly, it was Oklahoma State's sixth consecutive season with a 1,000-yard rusher, despite churning out great quarterback play over that same period with passers like Brandon Weeden and Zac Robinson, who was a strong runner as well.

That ties Pac-12 power Oregon for the nation's third-longest streak, behind only a pair of programs from the run-heavy Big Ten, Penn State and Wisconsin, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

But compared to the rest of the Big 12, it's even more impressive. The Pokes have had a 1,000-yard rusher every season since 2007, and four different backs (Dantrell Savage, Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston, Joseph Randle) have helped extend that streak.

Over that same period, here's how many 1,000-yard rushers the Big 12's other teams have had (with a hat tip to Oklahoma State running backs coach Jemal Singleton):

  • Kansas State (4)

  • Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia (3)

  • Kansas (2)

  • Iowa State, Texas, TCU (1)

  • Texas Tech (0)

For all its prowess throwing the ball, you've got to respect Oklahoma State's ability to run it, too. Baylor's streak of three consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher is the closest to the Pokes' streak of six, but with senior Jeremy Smith stepping up to collect the majority of the carries in 2013, I wouldn't bet against OSU making it seven consecutive years in 2013.