Spread helps boost college football rushing numbers

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The spread has helped the running game come roaring back in major college football.

Last season, FBS teams rushed for 176 yards per game, the highest average since 1980. It's not just about tempo and number of plays, either - last year's 4.5 yard average per carry matched the previous year's total for the highest in the NCAA record book, which dates back to 1937.

Though initially used mostly for passing, the spread has evolved. Now, more coaches are taking advantage of the space available in the ground game. The teams that played for the national title last year, Ohio State and Oregon, both used run-based spread schemes. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, one of the spread's innovators, says teams now spread to run as much as pass.