Oklahoma State and Tulsa’s high-powered offenses are gearing up to take the field in Stillwater, OK for a Thursday night game that should produce a lot of highlights and touchdowns. Tulsa still has some question marks on their depth chart, as they have yet to release an official roster for the matchup. This might have something to do with their quarterback situation.
Sophomore Chad President and freshman Luke Skipper are the two QBs that are in contention for the position, and neither have separated themselves as the #1 guy for the job. Luke Skipper had a great showing in the Golden Hurricanes’ spring game as he completed 16 of his 24 passing attempts for 173 yards and two touchdowns. But, head coach Philip Montgomery may want to go with the more experienced sophomore, Chad President, as Oklahoma State has been top 10 nationally in turnover differential 3 out of the last 4 years, making experience that much more valuable.
Tulsa may have to rely heavily on their running game to start off, as they have Maxwell and Doak Walker preseason candidate, senior D’Angelo Brewer, leading the way. Brewer ran for over 1400 yards in his junior campaign and was an absolute workhorse for Tulsa in the 2016 season. In week 4 of last year he carried the ball 46 times for 252 yards in a two overtime game against Fresno State. The very next game against SMU he carried the ball 38 times for a total of 182 yards. We expect to see much of the same against the Oklahoma State defense in effort to control the clock and keep the high-powered Oklahoma State offense on the sideline.
Although Oklahoma State has one of the most ballhawking defenses in the nation, their offense is a well oiled machine. They have one of the top heisman candidates Mason Rudolph leading the way at the quarterback position and he is as efficient as he is productive. Rudolph was the only quarterback last season to throw for over 4000 yards with less than 5 interceptions on the year. That is very impressive considering the kid threw the ball 448 times. Two of the five interceptions came in a 43-37 victory over Kansas State where he was still 29 of 38 in passing attempts for 457 yards and five touchdowns. Head coach Mike Gundy will take those kinds of numbers all day from the talented QB.
Rudolph also has his favorite target returning this year in senior WR James Washington, who was the only other player offensive player that was voted unanimously to the preseason All-Big 12 team. Washington has had over 1000 receiving yards in the past two seasons, and we do not expect him to slow down this season. His most impressive outing in the 2016 season was in the week three win against a tough Pitt team last year. Washington caught the ball just 9 times but had 296 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With an extremely impressive average of 19.2 yards per catch in his career, we expect much of the same in his senior season debut against Tulsa.
We could sit here and talk about Oklahoma State’s exciting offense all day, so before we move on we need to mention the 2016 freshman phenom, Justice Hill. Last season was a historic year for the now-sophomore running back, as he put his name in the record books with the top five freshman rushers in Big 12 history. It comes as no surprise as his 1,142 rushing yards was the most of any freshman last season, and this season has the makings of something even more special. The 2016 freshman All-American could easily be a household name by the middle of the season.
The big-hitting safety Tre Flowers returns for his senior year and will be the leader for this Oklahoma State defense for the 2017 season. Flowers was the only defender that caused ex-Sooner and now NFL running back, Sam Perine, to fumble last season, and the ballhawking safety will be all over the field on Thursday night. Mike Gundy and defensive-coordinator Glenn Spencer have been a little more aggressive in position changes this off-season, as their top cornerback Ramon Richards was moved to free safety, which hopefully for the Pokes will fill that hole in the OSU defense. This allows for Clemson transfer CB Adrian Baker to step on the field as well, letting them put their best defense on the field.
We fully expect for the Oklahoma State defense to take a step forward in the 2017 season, making them a prime candidate as a dark horse for the playoff. While they have to play at Texas and at WVU back to back weeks, they do get Oklahoma, TCU, and Baylor at home giving them a great chance to take over the Big 12 this year. Okie State seems to be the team that nobody is talking about. But that may change this year.
Tulsa is not a team to take lightly though, as the Golden Hurricanes finished the 2016 season with 10 wins and consistently have one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. Expect to see lots of touchdowns and pushups by the male-cheerleaders as we predict a 56-27 victory in favor of the Cowboys out of Stillwater.