Non-conference play has not been kind to Big 12 teams this season, and it was no different for Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys survived an upset bid from Tulsa with a 16-7 victory Saturday afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium.
OSU lost starting quarterback Spencer Sanders after the opening drive to an apparent high right ankle sprain. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy then turned to Ethan Bullock, but the junior college transfer struggled to move the ball on the Tulsa defense. After a 76-yard opening drive from Sanders, Bullock gained just eight yards in four full drives in the first half.
When Bullock was finally able to get OSU down into the redzone in the second half, he threw an interception right at Tulsa cornerback Allie Green IV. Gundy had enough and turned to true freshman Shane Illingworth on the following possession with the Cowboys trailing 7-3.
Illingworth’s first pass went for 24 yards to Tylan Wallace. Chuba Hubbard gained 10 yards during the next two plays before Illingworth found Jelani Woods for eight more yards. A 36-yard completion to Wallace set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Hubbard to give OSU a 10-7 lead at 14:56 of the fourth quarter.
Alex Hale added two more field goals of 40 and 29 yards to cap a perfect 3-for-3 day in the kicking game for the Cowboys.
Illingworth finished 4-for-5 with 76 passing yards. Hubbard had been bottled up for the majority of the game because Tulsa didn’t respect the Cowboy passing attack with Bullock behind center. The Heisman Trophy hopeful had 93 yards and a touchdown. L.D. Brown impressed with 63 yards on nine attempts. Wallace led all receivers with 94 yards on four receptions.
OSU hosts West Virginia next week at BPS. Thurman Thomas will be honored as the first member of OSU’s ring of honor during a halftime ceremony. The health of Sanders will be something to keep an eye on and Illingworth should get more reps in practice as he moves up the depth chart.