With the start of the college football season just a little over two months away, 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.
We begin at the beginning with a look at the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
When: Thursday, Aug. 31st @ 6:30 p.m.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
2016: 10-3 (6-2)
Key Returners: RB D’Angelo Brewer, LB Craig Suits, LB Petera Wilson, DE Jesse Brubaker
Key Losses: QB Dane Evans, RB James Flanders, WR Keevan Lucas, WR Josh Atkinson, LB Trent Martin, DB Matt Linscott
In head coach Philip Montgomery’s second season at the helm, Tulsa enjoyed a 10-win season that included an absolute dismantling of Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, 55-10. Their only loses were to Ohio State, Houston, and Navy. That’s not a bad season.
This year though, Tulsa loses a lot of last season’s production, including their starting quarterback, running back, and two 1,000-yard wide receivers. That’s a lot of offense to replace, especially for a team that finished 6th in total offense in all of D-1 football last season.
What the Golden Huurricanes do return is experience on defense. While they lost their two leading tacklers in Martin and Linscott, they do bring back their TFL and interception leaders, as well as a good amount of experience in the secondary.
Ironically, the last time OSU and Tulsa faced off, was the last time the Cowboys had a season with a lot of expectations, 2011. OSU won that game 55-33, despite the fact that it didn’t end until early in the morning thanks to a loooong weather delay.
The two teams separated by about 70 miles have faced off 73 times with OSU leading the all-time record 40-28-5.
While Oklahoma State comes into the season expecting to be a preseason top-10 team with loads of experience on both sides of the ball, Tulsa will be breaking in a lot of new starters.
Specifically the quarterback.
Dane Evans graduated as Tulsa’s all-time passing leader, and has moved on to become part of the Philadelphia Eagles roster. Now two quarterbacks are battling to take his place; junior Chad President (what a name!) and redshirt freshman Luke Skipper. President saw very limited action as the third-team QB last season, completing just one of two passing attempts for nine yards. He also had three carries for 33 yards.
While President was expected to be the next starter, Skipper’s performance in the Tulsa spring game has created a QB competition. He went 16-of-24 for 173 yards and two scores. Coach Montgomery isn’t expected to name a starter until this fall.
The one thing Tulsa does return is their second leading rusher and third leading receiver from last season. Running back D’Angelo Brewer will likely become the primary ball carrier this season after gaining 1,435 yards and seven touchdowns on 264 carries in 2016. Receiver Justin Hobbs is expected to take another step forward in his junior year after a sophomore campaign that saw him total 50 catches for 685 yards and four touchdowns.
Despite losing three of their top four tacklers from last season, the defense will return a decent amount of experience, including five players who started at least eight games. The secondary will be a strength with cornerbacks Reggie Robinson (7 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble) and Kerwin Thomas (9 pass breakups, 1 INT, 58 tackles), and safety McKinley Whitfield (4 pass breakups, 2 blocked kicks, 59 tackles).
Players to Watch For
With Tulsa set to break in a new starting quarterback, expect them to run the ball. Brewer started seven games for Tulsa last season, so he will get the bulk of the carries. That doesn’t mean Tulsa won’t throw the ball early and often to test an OSU secondary that will be breaking in multiple new starters. However, if OSU holds Tulsa’s run game in check, they should be able to put pressure on whichever inexperienced QB Tulsa puts on the field.
Despite not starting a single games last season, Linebacker Petera Wilson led the team in sacks (6.5) and was fifth on the team in tackles for a loss (7). I expect Wilson to be a starter this season. The Cowboys will also need to hold defensive end Jesse Brubaker in check. He led TU in tackles for a loss last season with 13.5 and was second in sacks with 5.5.
A home game against Tulsa is the perfect way for OSU to begin the season. They will provide the Cowboys with more of a challenge than an FCS opponent. Also, with the game being on a Thursday night, OSU will get the national exposure, which helps early in the season. With the Golden Hurricanes breaking in so many new players it will tilt the game even more in OSU’s favor.
OSU has too much returning experience and too much expectation to allow this game to turn into another CMU game. I expect OSU to start slow (like they always do early in the season), but pull away from Tulsa for an easy victory.
OSU 45 - Tulsa 24