Start Time: Thursday, Aug. 31 7:30 p.m. ET
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Live Coverage: Big Country 99.5 FM, stats available at TulsaHurricane.com
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma
The Series: OSU leads 39-27-5, with the Cowboys winning the last meeting 59-33 on Sept. 17, 2011
Betting Line: As of Wednesday, OSU is favored by 18 points.
Tulsa Outlook: Tulsa has not released their depth chart yet, which still leaves a main question yet to be answered: who will be the starting quarterback? The battle between sophomore Chad President and freshman Luke Skipper is still going on and it could be right before kickoff that Golden Hurricane fans will have that question answered.
While President brings more experience playing Division 1 football, Skipper dominated during Tulsa’s Spring Game, completing 16-of-24 passes for 173 yards while throwing for two touchdowns. It’s quite possible that Tulsa could run the ball in a majority of their offense, as they have 1,000-yard rusher, D’Angelo Brewer, returning for his senior season.
With Brewer being a preseason candidate for the Maxwell and Doak Walker awards, Tulsa has three running backs that possess game experience, strength and speed to give aid to Brewer. Receivers Justin Hobbs and Keenen Johnson will have to step up into larger roles this season, with the two combining for under 1,000 receiving yards last season.
The Golden Hurricane’s defensive line will be their bread and butter, as senior defensive ends Jesse Brubaker and Jeremy Smith lead the way. Brubaker led Tulsa with 13.5 tackles for loss and Smith added eight stops for 52 yards in 2016.
Tulsa’s inside is young and inexperienced, which is likely to be consisted of upperclassmen that didn’t see very much time on the field last season. The Golden Hurricane show signs of potential, but their opening week opponent is the toughest team on their schedule.
Oklahoma State Outlook: Being ranked in the top 10 to start the season, OSU decided to make their journey to the Big 12 title a little more challenging in the kickoff week. Although Tulsa is coming off a 10-win season, the Cowboys hold a 52-6 record since 2010 against teams that were not ranked in the top 25.
The Cowboys’ offense is as efficient as a heat pump, with their passing game leading the way. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is a preseason contender to hoist the Heisman Trophy this December, as he was the only quarterback in the country to throw for 4,000 yards with less than five interceptions. Rudolph’s no. 1 target, James Washington, returns as one of only two Big 12 offensive players to be voted unanimously to the preseason All-Conference team.
Washington’s 26 career receiving touchdowns are amongst the top of active FBS wideouts, also leading Power 5 schools with 2,923 career receiving yards and 19.2 career yards per catch. OSU makes themselves unpredictable, as their running game poises problems to add to their offense.
Justice Hill’s historic freshman season carried him to be the FBS freshman rushing leader last season and shattered OSU’s freshman rushing record with 1,142 yards. The freshman All-American’s 2016 total placed him in the top five freshman rushers in Big 12 conference history, with the conference expecting him to have the same amount of production after placing the Tulsa native on the preseason All-Conference team.
While OSU’s offense was the backbone of their success in 2016, the defense gave opposing offense fits. The defense has ranked in the top 10 nationally in turnover margin in three out of the last four years, including 2016, where they averaged plus 0.85.
Senior safety Tre Flowers commands the defense this season after leading the team with seven pass break-ups in 2017. The preseason all-conference selection is a powerful tackler, as he forced two fumbles that included former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine, his only fumble during the regular season.
OSU has established returners both offensively and defensively, which could play into their favor on Thursday.
Prediction: Clearly, OSU is the more experienced team. Tulsa has key pieces of last year’s team returning, but many of this season’s starters will get a wake-up call come kickoff on Thursday.
Oklahoma State 52-27