ESPN Stats & Information 676d

Can Houston stop Donnel Pumphrey from rushing into record book?

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is 107 yards short of Ron Dayne's FBS record for career rushing yards. To rush into sole possession of the career rushing yards record, Pumphrey will need 108 yards in the Las Vegas Bowl against a Houston rush defense that ranks third nationally in yards per game allowed (97.9) and second in yards per rush (2.9).

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver could be the key to stopping Pumphrey behind the line of scrimmage. Oliver is one of 35 players with at least 15 tackles for loss this season, and he's the only freshman in that group. Pumphrey, however, can also fuel the Aztecs' passing game. He is the only player in FBS history with 5,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.

Offensively, Houston is led by quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who has stepped up in each of his last two bowl games. With three touchdowns in Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl (passing or rushing), Ward Jr. can become the fifth player in the last 20 years to account for three or more touchdowns in three separate bowl games. The others to do so are Dak Prescott (2013-15), Brett Hundley (2012-14), Graham Harrell (2006-08), Chad Henne (2004-07) and Joey Harrington (1999-01).

Ward Jr. and the Cougars offense will be operating without former head coach Tom Herman, who left to become head coach at Texas. It'll mark the first game for newly-promoted head coach Major Applewhite, the former offensive coordinator under Herman. ESPN's Football Power Index gives the Cougars a 59 percent chance to win despite the coaching change.

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