The wait is FINALLY over.
Thursday night we’ll see Taylor Cornelius and the Oklahoma State Cowboys take the field in Boone Pickens to face the Missouri State Bears. With the departure of quite a few key players to the NFL, the Pokes will look to reload and pick up where they left off. With a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles, the Pokes will look to adapt to a new defensive scheme as well. With so many unknowns the anticipation has Oklahoma State fans waiting on the edge of their seats for the season to start.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium- Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: Thursday, August 30 7:00 P.M. C.S.T.
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network
Get to Know the Missouri State Bears:
The Bears are lead by quarterback Peyton Huslig. The returning junior quarterback had his first season with the Bears last year. He ranked fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference in total offense (236.5). The Bears return nine players on defense including preseason first-team All-MVFC pick Angelo Garbutt. Garbutt sat out last year after transferring from the University of Iowa.
Huslig comes form Garden City Community College where he lead his team to a NJCAA National Championship in 2016. The Bears are looking to rebuild after not having a winning season since 2009. Peyton Huslig could be the guy that gets them there in his second year at Missouri State.
What to Watch For: Oklahoma State
This will be Justice Hill’s year. The Cowboys return the Big 12’s leading rusher from last season. In what is likely Hill’s last season in Stillwater, look for Hill to get the ball a lot this year. With 1,517 yards last season, Hill was a staple on the Cowboy offense. This year they have even more running backs at their disposal with J.D. King looking to build on a great season last year and Chuba Hubbard coming off his redshirt season bigger and stronger.
Taylor Cornelius gets the start behind center after being backup to Rudolph the past two years. We haven’t seen a ton of Corn Dog in game situations yet, but what we have seen has been decent.He’s got a 60 percent completion percentage and hasn’t thrown an interception. Gundy went with the safe choice here which isn’t surprising. We’ll have to see if we see any other quarterbacks.
Marcus Keyes leads an O-line group that Mike Gundy said was the most improved unit from last year at Big 12 Media Days. Josh Henson’s crew is looking to help out a new quarterback with returners like Larry Williams who received a medical redshirt waiver and will play this year. This unit takes a hit losing guys like Zach Crabtree and Brad Lunblade. Redshirt junior Johnny Wilson starts at center so the Pokes will still have some experience behind the quarterback.
Oklahoma State fans will have to go without seeing the 1,000-plus yard talents of Marcell Ateman and James Washington who will be playing on Sundays. Jalen McCleskey, Tyron Johnson,Dillon Stoner and Tylan Wallace will be your new wide receiver group that look to replace that production.
On the defensive side of the ball you’re led by Jordan Brailford. He’s been a stud for Oklahoma State the past few years. Brailford had 57 tackles with 34 of them being solo. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss including 3 in Bedlam.
Other names to watch on defense are Calvin Bundage and Kenneth Edison-McGruder who will be playing safety this year after being a linebacker for most of his career. Those guys both had fantastic years in 2017 that I would look for them to build on them.
Kevin Henry who was expected to be a standout player and went down with an injury last year comes back. He’s expected to play the “bandit” spot in Jim Knowles’ defense. Rodarius Williams and A.J. Green will lead the safeties. The defense is going to have to adapt a lot with the 4-2-5 defense.
Last time they played:
The last time these teams faced off was in 2014. The Cowboys may have won the game 40-23, but they lost quarterback J.W. Walsh for the season to injury. Thus began the short-lived Daxx Garman era. Brandon Shepard had 131 receiving yards and Tyreek Hill was the leading rusher with 62.
All time, the Cowboys are 7-0 against the Bears overall, winning six by double digits, and the other in the first ever overtime game in Division-I football.
OSU will win if:
The Cowboys focus on playing their game. Just do whats needed to get out of their injury free. If they don’t try and do more than need to and end up getting bit bye it, they’re going to be fine. Keep the ball and don’t let too much get by you on defense. Taylor Cornelius has to keep to his cool. The defense also has to be patient and get used to something different than the bend don’t break that they’re used to.
Missouri State will win if:
Peyton Huslig just goes completely off and has a better game than anyone could possibly imagine. Oklahoma States defense would have to just completely fall apart. They defensive line is better than anticipated and Taylor Cornelius just completely gets frazzled.
The Pokes run away with this one. Phillip mentioned this in the CRFF podcast and I have to agree with him. I see it being 45-14 OSU with Missouri State getting one early and one late.