Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming game in our Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa preview and prediction.
11 a.m. CT, Sept. 11, 2021, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV: FS1 (Cory Provus and Devin Gardner)
Radio: Cowboys Radio Network (Dave Hunziker)
Line: Oklahoma State (-13)
QB Spencer Sanders
I try not to repeat players in consecutive weeks but since Sanders didn’t play against Missouri State here he is again. They said he was out because he was caught up in COVID protocols, but then when asked earlier this week if he’d play Saturday Mike Gundy said he didn’t want to discuss injuries so who knows? The feeling around the program is that he’ll play so I’m going with it again! After watching the OSU offense against the Bears last weekend Sanders is sorely needed. No disrespect intended towards backup Shane Illingworth who played well to start the game but the offense is built for a mobile QB. Illingworth is closer to a Brandon Weeden or a Mason Rudolph: he has a live arm but is a pocket statue. He can outrun me but probably not anyone on any defense they will play. Helped by a headscratchingly bad showing by the OSU offensive line Missouri State shut down the OSU run game and put constant pressure on the passer. Sanders has sprinters speed and has to be respected as a runner on zone reads and a scrambler on pass plays so a defender can’t just pin his ears back and launch into the backfield. If Sanders plays the Cowboy offense will be much better as long as he can keep his turnover problem under control.
RB Dez Jackson
Oklahoma State had 54 rushing yards against Missouri State, and FCS opponent. For dramatic effect let me type that out in all capital letters: FIFTY-FOUR YARDS. Last season’s backup LD Brown got the most carries with 15 followed by the transfer Jaylen Warren with six. Both scored a touchdown and managed averages of 2 and 1.5 yards respectively. Dez Jackson only got three carries but looked better than the other two by a lot. On those carries he averaged more than the other two combined at 4.7 yards. On that third carry he fumbled and got to sit the rest of the game, something Gundy has done a lot over the years. Look, if your running back is carrying the ball like a loaf of bread and it gets swatted out I might understand sitting him. Jackson’s fumble was the result of a Missouri State player putting his helmet in the exact right spot where the ball was tucked and it popping out. He should’ve seen the field again and maybe the game wouldn’t have been so nerve racking at the end. Brown is a speedster and Warren is build like a brick house. They both have a spot in this offense, Warren especially as a power back when needed, but Jackson is a little mix of both and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the featured back this year.
The Offensive Line
Block someone. Anyone.
The Two-headed Monster
In their season opener Tulsa has an impressive ground attack. Deneric Price had 151 yards on just 14 carries while Shamari Brooks, the starter two years ago who missed last season with injury, added another 80 yards on just 10 carries. If you can run the ball effectively, pick up first downs at will, and drain the clock winning becomes much, much easier. If you can do it against a bigger school who happens to be a rival from an hour down the road its even better! These two will have a lot to say who wins the game on Saturday.
Two graduate transfers from Power 5 schools start on Tulsa’s defense: Jon-Michael Terry is a linebacker firmly of the Oklahoma Sooners and Travon Fuller is a starting corner from Texas A&M. Both have played against OSU before and won, Terry in multiple Bedlam games and Fuller in a bowl game two years ago so neither will be intimidated by the supposedly superior opponent. Terry had 9 tackles and a sack against UC Davis in the opener and Fuller 3 tackles, a TFL, and 2 pass break-ups. These two can go a long way to slowing down the Pokes.
Safety Kendarin Ray
Ray led the Hurricane defense in the opener with a career-high 13 tackles. He also hit double-digit tackles in last season’s opener with 11, all solo tackles. The opponent in last years opener? Oklahoma State. I expect a repeat performance from Ray on Saturday. He should make the middle of the field an unpleasant place for the entire game.
FCS schools won six games against FBS schools last weekend. One of those wins came against Tulsa. It was almost seven wins with one against Oklahoma State. With the transfer rules the way they are now and players getting a 6th free year from COVID the talent gap isn’t as big as it used to be from the haves and the have-nots but it’s still close nough that Tulsa wasn’t expected to win and OSU wasn’t expect to win by halftime. Both these teams struggled against opponents they should have handled easily. The question for this week is which team got better? You can write off of bad game as a fluke but if either or both of these teams look lost again some fanbases might be in for a long season.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Tulsa 21
Mike Gundy and Phil Montgomery are both good coaches and I don’t expect the kind of performances their teams put up last week to be repeated. The Cowboys will get their run game going a bit and Spencer Sanders will make his usual flashy plays in his first action this season. Tulsa will lean on its running attack as much as the OSU defense allows and clean up the sloppy quarterback play. Both defenses will play well enough. What it will come down to though is Oklahoma State just has more dudes that Tulsa and the talent edge will win out in the end.