The start of the 2021 football season is FINALLY here. I’m sure you’re all about as tired of realignment talk as we are. So for the next 48 hours (or at least the first half of the game until the announcers run out of things to talk about and ultimately spend 15 minutes on realignment) let’s just focus on Oklahoma State football!
The Cowboys kick off the season against the Missouri State Bears. Here’s what you need to know.
When: Saturday, September 4. 6:00 PM CT
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK.
Watch: BIG12 | ESPN+
Listen: Cowboy Radio Network
Line: It’s an FCS game you sickos!
Get to know the Missouri State Bears:
Bobby Petrino’s (yes, that guy) Bears are coming off an FCS playoff appearance in the head coach’s first season at the helm. The Bears went 5-4 overall, but 5-1 in the Spring Season, which earned them a trip to the FCS play-off where they lost in the first round to North Dakota State.
The Bears’ offense will be led by senior quarterback Jason Shelley. He beat out returning starter Jaden Johnson, who started 6 and played in 8 games for the Bears in 2020.
Shelley transferred from Utah State (he was dismissed from the program mid-season last year. No reason was given, though it was apparently not for anything illegal. In 2020, he started four games for Utah State and finished the season completing 51.5 percent of his passes for 420 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 68 yards on 33 carries.
That will perhaps provide a jolt to an offense that averaged just 17.3 points per game. Even if you take out the game against Oklahoma, that average only goes up to 19.4 ppg.
Where Missouri State’s strength did lie last year was on the defensive side of the ball. They gave up just 26.5 points per game, and were great on third down, allowing opponent to complete just 29% of their attempts which was 6th best in FCS last year. They were 23rd in the FCS with 2.7 sacks per game.
Keep an eye on linebacker Tyler Wiltz, who led the team in tackles (80) and was third in tackles for a loss (7) last season. Also, watch out for defensive end Kevin Ellis who had eight TFLs and six sacks last year, both team highs.
This is a defense that loves to get after the quarterback, so it will be a good early test for an Oklahoma State offensive line breaking in some new starters.
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I do think the Missouri State defense will be good enough to keep Oklahoma State from scoring on the very first drive as Spencer Sanders looks to break in new weapons and operate behind a lot of new faces on the offensive line.
That said, despite Mike Gundy’s glowing praise for the Bears, I don’t think the “challenge” will last long. Missouri State’s offense won’t do much, leading a game that feels closer than it should early, but out of hand by halftime.
Oklahoma State 48 - Missouri State 10