With the start of the college football season growing ever nearer, excitement about what could be an historic season for Oklahoma State is growing. With that in mind, it’s time to start looking at Oklahoma State’s 2017 schedule.
After opening conference play in Stillwater against TCU, the Cowboys will hit the road for the first time in league play. They’ll travel to Lubbock and face the rebuilding, yet dangerous, Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Texas Tech Red Raiders
When: Saturday, Sept. 30, Time TBA
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Tex.
2016: 5-7, 3-6 (Big 12)
Key Returners: QB Nic Shimonek, WR Keke Coutee, RB Justin Stockton, WR Dylan Cantrell, LB Dakota Allen
Key Departures: QB Patrick Mahomes III, WR Jonathan Giles, WR Devin Lauderdale, LB Kris Williams
Texas Tech is in a bit of a rebuild after the departure of Patrick Mahomes to the NFL Draft. His absence and impact on the Red Raiders cannot be overstated. Look back to other Tech quarterbacks in that offense, and compare the offensive output to that of Mahomes. He was a perfect fit for that system, and you’ve got to expect a drop off at the quarterback position.
The wide receiver group is probably the deepest on this Red Raider squad. While they lost Devin Lauderdale and Jonathan Giles transferred, they still return proven players in Keke Coulee and Dylan Cantrell. They also bring back Justin Stockton, whom the Red Raiders love to send out wide and use his speed.
The defense will be abysmal, which has come to be expected in Lubbock. While the offense is All-World, the defense loses them more games than the offense wins. One of the most crucial departures on this side of the football was Kris Williams. He was, at least from an outsider’s perspective, the best player on that defense. The Red Raiders will miss his help in run support and pass defense.
Texas Tech has more questions than they have answers in 2017, but they’ll still be dangerous, especially in Lubbock. Being early in the season, the Red Raiders might feel like they have something to prove, especially after losing to the Cowboys in heartbreaking fashion last season. This is a game Oklahoma State can’t afford to sleepwalk through.
Texas Tech played the Cowboys tough for four quarters in Stillwater. After a Red Raider touchdown with 1:44 left to make the score 45-44, it looked like Tech was about to tie it up. That was until Clayton Hatfield shanked an extra point attempt. Oklahoma State recovered the onside kick, Chris Carson truck-sticked a man, and the Pokes escaped with a 45-44 win. It was the typical offensive onslaught and lack of defense that we’ve come to know and love in this rivalry.
Player to watch - offense: Justin Stockton
Admittedly, Justin Stockton is one of my favorite non-Oklahoma State players in the Big 12. He is a burner, and is tough to bring down in the open field. The Red Raiders love to utilize his speed similar to how Oklahoma State used to use Tyreek Hill. They can hand it off to him in the backfield, swing it to him in the flat, and throw it downfield and let him run under it. His statistical output doesn’t match his ability on the field, and the Cowboys must be ready for him.
Player to watch - Defense: Kolin Hill
Hill, a transfer from Notre Dame, saw sparse playing time for the Red Raiders last season, but figures to be a key piece of the Tech defense this season. Our sister site, Viva The Matadors, ranked him as the sixth-best player for the Red Raiders in their roster breakdown. It’s a good writeup, and you should go read it. Based solely on athletic ability and presence, Hill could be an NFL draft pick. At 6’2” and 250 pounds, he’s a bit undersized as a pass rusher, but makes up for it with effective tackling and great technique. Tech needs all the help they can get on defense, and Hill gives them a boost.
The Bottom Line:
Texas Tech is rebuilding, and Kliff Kingbury’s seat isn’t cooling off any time soon. The Red Raiders will miss Patrick Mahomes, and without a clear-cut, go-to receiver, they will struggle. The offensive line is rebuilding as well. They’ve got questions to answer, and the preseason top-five Oklahoma State Cowboys will challenge them greatly in all areas of the game.
This matchup isn’t close, at least on paper. The Oklahoma State offense should be able to move the ball at will on the Red Raider defense. This game will come down to which team can make the most stops. I don’t trust Tech’s ability to contain the Cowboy air raid attack, and I think Oklahoma State can come up with a few timely turnovers. I think Tech will put up yards and points, but I don’t think it will be nearly enough.
The thing that makes this game interesting is that it’s in Lubbock. Weird things happen there, and it took an epic comeback to pull off the win the last time these two teams played in Lubbock. I don’t think the home field advantage will be enough though. Oklahoma State pulls away in the second half and returns to Stillwater at 2-0 in Big 12 play.