Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman will not play in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl, coach Mario Cristobal said Thursday.
That could be a boost for Boise State, as Freeman is No. 6 in Football Bowl Subdivision history with a school-record 5,621 career rushing yards. He has 1,475 yards this season.
Freeman said after the Ducks’ regular-season finale Nov. 25 that he was not sure if he would play in the bowl. A likely NFL draft pick, he joins the recent trend of some top players opting not to play in the postseason, hoping to avoid injury. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlien said the 6-foot, 238-pound Freeman “could easily find his way into a starter's role early in his NFL career.”
The two backs on the depth chart behind Freeman are senior Kani Benoit (573 yards, 10 TDs) and junior Tony Brooks-James (485 yards, two TDs).
“(Freeman) is one of the best running backs in the nation — big, physical, fast,” Boise State sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce said. “But Oregon ... they’ve been good consistently. They have three running backs that can all go.”
It is the second straight bowl in which Boise State’s bowl opponent will be without its top rusher, as Baylor’s Shock Linwood opted to skip last year’s Cactus Bowl.
“To me personally, I find that kind of a selfish decision,” Pierce said. “If anything, you want to give the scouts everything you can.”