NORMAN, Okla. (AP)Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb might be the best players in the nation at their respective positions.
They will have a prime-time stage when No. 21 Oklahoma State hosts No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday night.
Hubbard, a Doak Walker Award finalist, leads the nation with 1,832 yards rushing. He has four games with more than 200 yards rushing this season. With two games left, his current yardage total ranks fourth in school history for a single season.
Lamb, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, is one of the most productive pass catchers in Oklahoma history. This season, he ranks third nationally with 14 receiving touchdowns and third nationally with 22.3 yards per catch.
”From a defensive perspective, you have to be on your toes every play because these guys are special guys with the ball in their hands,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. ”They’re both very talented, very driven players, play very consistent, got schemes that allow them to get the ball in space and use their God-given abilities.”
Riley said even at places like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – programs known for putting up big numbers – it’s hard to find players the caliber of Hubbard and Lamb.
”It’s a challenge, and you certainly want to try to have as many of those guys as you possibly can,” he said. ”It makes your job easier – guys that can turn routine plays into big touchdowns. They’re both game-changing players. How each team handles those guys will probably have a long way to go in deciding this one.”
Hubbard, a Canadian who also is on the Oklahoma State track team, has Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s attention. He has seven runs of 50 yards or more – six for touchdowns, including a 92-yard scoring run against TCU.
”It’s the home run,” Grinch said when asked what concerned him most about Hubbard. ”It’s the one missed tackle that turns into a 90-yard run, an 80-yard run, on and on and on.”
Hubbard is more than fast. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound sophomore has 1,152 yards after contact this season and has scored 20 touchdowns. He is a workhorse who averages 26 carries per game.
”You can’t put him in the category of just a speed guy,” Grinch said. ”He runs strong. He breaks tackles with his feet and also by lowering his pads. When you draw up a tailback, that’s how they’re supposed to look.”
Hubbard is within reach of the Big 12 single-season record of 2,185 yards set by Iowa State’s Troy Davis in 1996.
”He’s had a lot of attention on him every week and has still been able to produce,” Riley said. ”He seems like a great kid and he’s playing his tail off. He’s certainly one of the best backs we’ve had in the league in a long time.”
Lamb’s 2,964 career yards receiving rank fourth all-time for the Sooners, and his 32 career receiving touchdowns are second. He had the words ”The Best Ever” on his eye-black tape during the win over Iowa State.
”It’s a reference to myself,” Lamb said. ”When I look in the mirror and look at myself, it just kind of reminds me of where my mindset is supposed to be and where I’m pushing to be.”
Lamb caught at least one touchdown pass the first six games this season and has 11 his past seven games. He didn’t play against Baylor, but he came back to score a touchdown against TCU last week.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Lamb is dangerous on both short and deep routes. The 6-foot-2 junior is known for acrobatic grabs and is one of the nation’s most productive receivers after the catch.
”You could tell they missed him in the Baylor game,” Gundy said. ”He’s an explosive player and they throw the ball to him. Pre-season (non-conference play), they threw it to him down the field. Once you got into league play where the guys know each other, he caught a lot of underneath routes, tweeners, a little bit of cross-country stuff. Good player.”
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