Well, week one was certainly something, wasn’t it? Oklahoma State jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Missouri State early in the second quarter as was expected. The rest of the game was anything but expected. The Bears out-scored OSU 16-3 the rest of the way with the Cowboys not being able to relax until the final nine seconds.
This weeks’ opponent didn’t fare much better in week one. Tulsa lost to UC-Davis at home by a score of 19-17. To be completely honest, yours truly had no idea UC-Davis played football. So, it can get worse! Here’s what to watch for inside Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday.
When: Saturday, September 11 at 11 a.m. CT.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium; Stillwater, OK.
Watch: Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
Listen: Cowboy Radio Network.
Line: Oklahoma State (-12.5), per Caesars Sportsbook. This means the Cowboys are 12.5-point favorites against Tulsa.
Significance: I’d be remiss to not mention the obvious. Football is a great distraction from regular life, but Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the worst attack on American soil in history. Whether you’re at the game or watching at home, hold a thought, memory, or prayer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Get to know the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes:
Tulsa was tasked with one of the most challenging offseason tasks in football last summer: finding a quarterback to replace a long-time incumbent starter. Seth Boomer looked set to take over the spot before an arm injury forced him to miss the game. Boomer appeared in five games over the previous two seasons after starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2018. So instead...
The Golden Hurricanes started Davis Brin, who played in three career games prior to this season. Brin finished 15-for-28 with 201 yards and two interceptions against zero touchdowns. Brin struggled mightily compared to UC-Davis quarterback Hunter Rodrigues, who totaled 311 yards and a score on 28-for-35 passing. The passing game was bad at Tulsa in week one and needs to improve in week two to give them any shot at beating OSU.
Tulsa will likely look to control the time of possession against OSU because that is exactly how the Golden Hurricanes were beaten last week. UC-Davis ran 20 more plays and held the ball for 12 more minutes, putting on a masterclass in executing a game plan.
Fortunately, the Tulsa offense was saved by a big performance from running back and Texas A&M transfer Deneric Prince. He went for 151 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries, averaging over 12 yards-per-carry. Running back Shamari Brooks also had a nice game, adding 80 yards on 10 carries. The offensive strengths in week one were quite the opposite from that of Oklahoma State.
While Tulsa attempted to bludgeon UC-Davis on the ground, Oklahoma State got it done through the air against Missouri State. Shane Illingworth filled in for the “COVID-absence” starter Spencer Sanders and threw for 315 yards, one score and one INT on 22-for-40. The ground game was not nearly as promising, with LD Brown totaling 40 yards on 15 carries.
As a team, OSU carried the ball 28 times for 81 yards, equaling 1.9 yards-per-carry. As much as Tulsa needs to improve its passing game to have a chance, the Pokes need to improve on the ground to show it can realize its ceiling this season. UC-Davis ran for just 88 yards against Tulsa last week, so the Pokes’ ground performance on Saturday may help show that week one was a fluke, or that it’s a bigger problem that could permeate all season.
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Tulsa has a lot of unknowns as far as the passing game goes. At this point in time, we don’t know if the Golden Hurricanes will start Davis Brin again, if they’ll look somewhere else, or if Seth Boomer is healthy enough to play. That leaves a big question mark at perhaps the most important part of the game.
What we do know is Tulsa has a good run defense and good running backs. With Spencer Sanders back, facing a defense that just surrendered over 300 yards to a former JUCO quarterback now playing at UC-Davis (who, yes, has a football team!) it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Sanders to put up eye-popping numbers. The biggest area of intrigue will be how the OSU running backs bounce back from a poor showing in week one against a solid run defense.
Because Sanders is back — and as enigmatic as he is, probably amped up to make his season debut — and a solid-as-ever OSU defense, coupled with a struggling and uncertain QB situation at Tulsa, I’ll take the Pokes to cover 12.5 points. However, only beating Missouri State by seven points is concerning. Don’t be surprised to see Tulsa stick around in this game for an uncomfortably long time. In the end, they just don’t have enough to beat OSU. I’ve got a reverse Fetty-Wapping:
Oklahoma State, 38 — Tulsa, 17