Two Hundred Forty-Five long days have come and gone since we last saw Mason Rudolph throw a bomb to a leaping James Washington. Over 5,880 hours since we last saw Justice Hill gashing the defense for a big gain. Roughly 352,900 minutes have passed since we witnessed Gundy and his glorious mullet lead the team out of the tunnel. Well, the wait is finally over folks.
Gameday is upon us and OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL IS OFFICIALLY BACK!
Mike Gundy and Co. kickoff the season tonight in BPS against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. OSU comes into 2017 with sky-high expectations and aspirations of a Big 12 championship and a birth in the College Football Playoff.
Tulsa enters 2017 on the heels of a very successful 10-3 season looking to make a second straight bowl appearance under third-year coach Phil Montgomery.
When: Thursday, August 31 6:30 P.M. CST
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK.
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Listen: Cowboy Radio Network
Line: Oklahoma State (-18)
Get to know the Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Last season, Tulsa was the first team in FBS history to have a QB throw for 3,000+ yards (Dane Evans), two different players to rush for over 1,000 yards (James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer), and two different players to have 1000+ receiving yards (Keevan Lucas and Joshua Atkinson). This balanced offensive attack powered the Golden Hurricane to a 10-3 season and a dominating bowl win over Central Michigan (yes THAT Central Michigan). Fortunately for the Pokes, almost all of that offensive production I just mentioned is no longer there. This leaves Phil Montgomery with some major questions entering 2017, and most notably, who will be QB1 for tonight’s season opener? The QB race is between sophomore Chad President and freshman Luke Skipper. Whomever Montgomery gives the nod to will have the unenviable task of replacing Tulsa’s all-time leading passer, Dane Evans.
Regardless of the starting quarterback, it’s likely that Tulsa will lean on their running game early and often. The Golden Hurricane return four starters from an offensive line that produced eight 300 yard rushing games in 2016. They are lead by first team all-conference center, Chandler Miller, who is on the preseason watchlist for the Rimington Award and the Outland Trophy. Behind the big guys up front is senior running back D’Angelo Brewer, who finished 2016 with 1,435 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns. Brewer is on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Award and will be Tulsa’s feature playmaker in 2017.
As for the passing attack, Tulsa must replace two 1,000 yard receivers from last season and will look for Justin Hobbs and Keenon Adams to step into larger roles this year.
Defensively, TU will be strong on the edge, highlighted by standout defensive ends Jesse Brubaker and Jeremy Smith, but lose key players at both tackle spots and linebacker, including their two leading tacklers, Trent Martin and Matt Linscott. In the secondary, the Golden Hurricane bring back a number of players with starting experience lead by safety Jordan Mitchell. Phil Montgomery thinks it might be the best secondary he’s had during his tenure at the program.
What to Watch For: Oklahoma State
In Stillwater this season, you can expect a lot of this.
Oh and this too.
The Cowboys are entering the 2017 campaign with high hopes of playing in Arlington for a Big 12 championship and potentially a bid to the College Football Playoff, and for good reason too.
Lead by Heisman trophy hopeful Mason Rudolph at quarterback, Oklahoma State should field one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Coming off a stellar 2016 that saw Rudolph throw for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns against just four interceptions, Rudolph will be surrounded by even more weapons in 2017.
Highlighted by preseason Biletnikoff favorite James Washington, who has 2,923 career receiving yards and 26 career touchdowns, OSU touts the most talented group of wideouts in the country. Jalen McCleskey (73 receptions in 2016) and Chris Lacy (489 yds in 2016) stand to be the biggest threats in the passing attack after Washington. In addition, Marcel Ateman (766 yds in 2015) is back healthy after foot injury last year and Tyron Johnson, a former 5-star recruit, transferred from LSU and is poised to get a lot of touches this season as well. There is not enough room or time to talk about this group of receivers, but expect them to create constant mismatches in the secondary all season long.
On the ground, OSU is lead by sophomore running back and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Justice Hill. Hill broke OSU’s single-season freshman rushing record last year with 1142 rushing yards. He will have a chance to break 1500 yards this season and will remain a focal point of the cowboy offense. Behind Hill are a number of backs in line to be a factor in the running game, including a couple freshman, J.D. King and Chuba Hubbard.
If there is any concern in the offense at all, it might be on the offensive line. OSU will be replacing starting left-tackle Victor Saleko with Aaron Cochran, a 6’8” grad transfer from Cal. With Cochran at left tackle, OSU will start four seniors and one sophomore on the line. The starting five should be solid, but depth could prove to be a challenge as the season wears on.
Defensively, the Pokes lost some key starters with the departures of Jordan Sterns, Ashton Lampkin, Jordan Burton, and Vincent Taylor. The D-line will surely miss Taylor in the middle, but is more than capable of holding its own in 2017. Darrion Daniels and DeQuinton Osborne will plug up the middle while Cole Walterscheid and Jarrell Owens will seal the edge on the outside. The secondary again is the biggest question on defense for OSU. Tre Flowers is preseason All-Big 12 at free safety and is joined by former CB Ramon Richards who slid over to strong safety, but they aren’t the concern. OSU will feature two cornerbacks, AJ Green and Rodarious Williams, who will be starting for the first time ever tonight against Tulsa. Their development will be key over the course of the season. At linebacker, senior Chad Whitener will control the middle while a talented rotation of Calvin Bundage, Kenneth Edison-McGruder, and Justin Phillips will hold down the outside.
Last time they played...
On September 17, 2011, OSU won a wacky game 59-33 in Tulsa after a storm delayed kickoff for about three hours. The game didn’t start until after midnight and didn’t officially end until 3:35 in the morning. Brandon Weeden threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns while Joseph Randle added 128 yards on the ground and scored three times himself.
2011 is the last time OSU played Tulsa AND the last time OSU won the Big 12.....hmmm
OSU will win if...
The Pokes play their game and take care of the ball. They are the much better team and have a tremendous talent advantage. I think OSU will put some serious pressure on their inexperienced QB and give the offense plenty to work with. There should plenty of room for Justice to run and our wideouts should run circles around their secondary. If OSU executes their gameplan, they should win easily.
Tulsa will win if...
They rush for over 300 yards and cause four turnovers. Tulsa needs to create havoc and pressure on Mason Rudolph and force him into uncharacteristic throws. If they can establish their running game, it will allow them to hang in the game and give them a chance down the stretch.
I think Tulsa will hang around early on, but OSU’s talent and unrelenting attack on offense will allow them to pull away comfortably in the second half.
OSU 48 - Tulsa 27