TULSA, Oklahoma – An eccentric offensive start for Oklahoma State helped aid the Cowboys in a 40-21 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane advancing the Pokes to 3-0 in the 2019 season.
One snap of the ball on the opening drive of the game was all Spencer Sanders and running back Chuba Hubbard needed to fire up the 17,000 OSU fans in attendance as Hubbard found an opening quickly after the handoff plunging forward for a 75-yard rushing touchdown.
This play put the Cowboys on the board 7-0 within 10 seconds of the official start of the game.
“All week we had talked about coming hot out of the gate,” Hubbard said. “We knew we had to do whatever we needed to do to get the win, so that worked out well for us.”
Hubbard’s big night only progressed from there as the running back would see 32 total carries for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Running the ball became a high priority for the Cowboys during this matchup as Hubbard saw exactly four times the amount of carries as he had the week prior against McNeese.
Sanders would rely on Hubbard again on OSU’s second drive of the game after the defense forced a quick three and out on Tulsa’s first drive, and Hubbard would once again find the opening, this time for a 30-yard touchdown on his sixth carry of the game.
Hubbard had six carries, 116 yards and two touchdowns only four minutes into the start of the game.
“We like what he’s doing,” Gundy said. “He’s doing a great job, and we have to keep him healthy. He’s only played in seven games, and he was in Canada before that, so he never experienced playing high school football to the level they do here down South. Only time will tell what he’s truly capable of.”
Hubbard now has 521 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the three non-conference scheduled games combined, and guys like Spencer Sanders sing nothing but praises about his contributions to the OSU offense.
“That first play of the game was such a confidence booster,” Sanders said. “He was great, and it’s awesome to be able to hand somebody the ball and watch them accomplish that.”
Aside from Hubbard’s notable performance, the OSU offense lacked chemistry at times putting guys like Sanders in tough situations and guys like Tylan Wallace out of reach to make key plays Cowboy fans are used to seeing.
Wallace ended with five receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown, but even Sanders admitted the passing game seemed a little off, and there would have to be adjustments made on that before the team heads to Austin, Texas, next weekend.
“I missed a lot of throws that I usually hit,” Sanders said. “I’ve got to get it right for next week, and I’m going to do what I can to help this team. I’ve got to work with him [Tylan], and I’ve got to be better.”
Sanders would, however, connect with Wallace on a massive 90-yard touchdown play in the third quarter bringing the Cowboy offense to life and essentially changing the course of the game.
Wallace’s 90-yard reception for a touchdown goes down as the third longest passing play for a TD in school history behind Mason Rudolph’s 91-yard throw for a TD to James Washington against Pittsburgh in 2016 and Zac Robinson’s 95-yard TD pass to Jeremy Broadway against Iowa State in 2008.
Sanders finished a full game at 12/22 for 169 yards and one touchdown, but he also had his first career interception tonight, as well as a misread on a handoff resulting in a fumble recovered by the Golden Hurricane.
Frustrations may have flared slightly as the Cowboys, who had opened the game on a 17-0 run, found themselves facing a 21-20 deficit heading into the locker room at halftime.
Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith found his groove in the second quarter pushing Tulsa to a 21-3 run to end the half and leaving the OSU defense with a lot of loose ends to tie up quickly.
“They [Tulsa] were running the ball a lot,” Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “We needed to make a change, and we did. Second year in the system now, and I can get those guys to make the necessary adjustments at halftime.”
Adjustments were absolutely made for the defense as Tulsa was held completely scoreless for the remainder of the game with major plays from guys like Amen Ogbongbemiga, Malcolm Rodriguez and Kolby Harvell-Peel. The three combined for 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
“We have a mature team,” Knowles said. “They’re young guys, but they’re buying into the culture. They’re disciplined and tough, and they’re learning the speed of the game and how things go.”
The Cowboys would have their way on offense extending their score to a final of 40-21 at the end of regulation sending the Pokes to a 3-0 record. This also concludes the Cowboys’ non-conference portion of their schedule with the first Big 12 matchup next weekend against the Texas Longhorns in Austin.
“Tulsa presented us with adversity for the first time,” Sanders said. “It was good to see how we reacted and how we grinded through. Our defense did a hell of a job stopping them when needed, so knowing they’re capable in situations like that will help us a lot moving forward.”
The Cowboys have now won seven consecutive games in the series improving to 41-27-5 overall in a matchup against the Golden Hurricane with 11 wins in the past 13 meetings.
The Golden Hurricane falls to 1-2 in the season and will face Wyoming next weekend, while the Cowboys make their first Big 12 trip down to Austin to battle the Longhorns.