Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in our Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa preview and prediction.
11 a.m. September 19, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV: ESPN (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay and Kris Budden)
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker, John Holcomb)
Spread: OSU (-21)
Fun Fact: Oklahoma State has won 24 consecutive home openers for the longest such streak in school history, and the Cowboys have won 44 of their past 50 home openers
RB Chuba Hubbard
The Canadian Freight Train surprised everyone by juking the NFL to returning to Stillwater for another year. The leading rusher in the NCAA last season says he’s bigger, stronger, and faster (FASTER?!) than he was last season. He also spent a lot of time working with receivers coach and new OC Kasey Dunn on his hands so he can be more involved in the passing game. I didn’t expect Hubbard to get to 2,000 yards again even before the season got shortened to 10 games. He ran out of gas towards the end of last season and it wouldn’t be wise to ride him that hard again if it can be helped. But he’ll be the best player on the field most games this season, and if the game isn’t put away early against Tulsa and he doesn’t spend the second half on the bench he should hit 200 yards easily.
WR Tylan Wallace
Every knows how good he is, or was. A lot of eyes will be watching his legs this game. Hows the surgically repaired knee? How close is he to being the player he was? Can he run like he used to? How about all those jump balls? Will he still steamroll poor corners and safeties that get in his way on those short passes or will he be more timid? Wallace was the best receiver in football in 2018 (the Biletnikoff guys got it wrong) and the first half of 2019 before he got injured. I’m ready to see if he’s returned to that form.
QB Spencer Sanders
This years Cowboys will go as Spencer Sanders goes. A redshirt freshmen first year starter last season he showed flashes but also showed he was young. Turnovers and trying to do too much caused issues in early games, and right when he seemed to start to be putting it together he injured his thumb and had to miss the last few games of the season. Showing that he has matured as a player and can stay in the offensive system is important with only one game before conference play starts.
QB Zach Smith
Smith transferred from Baylor and sat out the 2018 season. A talented player with a good arm he can do damage through the air when he has to. Last season he was productive, going for 3,279 yards and 19 TDs against 9 INTs as a first-year starter. He should be better than that this year. In this game against an OSU secondary that has a 4 year starter at corner and arguably the best safety duo in the Big 12 he needs to be more of a manager than a playmaker.
RB duo Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II
Both are seniors and both are capable players. Brooks had 1046 yards with 6 tds on the ground last season, and while spelling him Taylor gained 461 yards with 6 tds as well. Brooks went over 100 yards against the Cowboys last season and scored twice. Both need to play well in this game. A strong showing that forces OSU to keep a safety close to the line of scrimmage would help QB Zach Smith immensely against a talented secondary.
What’s the mental state of the team? The Cowboys had a weird offseason as did everyone because of the pandemic, but OSU’s got even weirder. There was the Gundy t-shirt debacle that started a player movement lead by Chuba Hubbard for changes in the program. While most of what that meant has been kept behind closed doors one of the things that came to the public eye was the players wanted Gundy to be more involved in day-to-day things in the lives of the players. Apparently he has taken his “CEO Coach” label to the max, not even knowing the names of some of his players when he passed them in the hallways. The players have said Gundy has done all the right things so far but that more is needed, and its still a work in progress. Has the team rallied around each other like some might in a situation like this? Or is there a fracture between the players and their head coach?
Tulsa returns 100-percent of its rushing, passing and total offense yards, 85-percent of its receiving yards and 89-percent of its touchdowns. Add in the fact that they rank 2nd behind only Clemson in returning career rushing production (4,541 career yards and 51 TDs, while Clemson returns highs of 5,887 career yards and 74 rushing TDs) and there is a lot of reasons for Hurricane fans to be excited about the offense and it’s 9 returning starters. That offense being able to produce first downs and speed the game up against what looks to be a vastly improved and experienced Cowboy defense is key. The more they can keep the Cowboys trio of superstar weapons off the field and the clock running the better.
Oklahoma State: 48 Tulsa: 21
This all comes down to motivation and preparation for Oklahoma State. They are clearly the better team, but Tulsa isn’t exactly the worlds biggest pushover. If they catch you sleeping it can be bad. What happened to Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas I’m sure was brought up a lot in Stillwater this week. I don’t expect any motivational issues and I have faith in new OSU OC Kasey Dunn to have his loaded offense ready to go. The Pokes should pile up scores early and force Tulsa to try to keep pace, taking away that steady run game and making Smith throw into the strength of the Cowboy defense. Tulsa will score some late against the twos but Oklahoma State will cover the spread easily.
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