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Recap: Oklahoma State Overcomes Adversity to Beat Tulsa on the Road

After a slow start, the Cowboys took care of business at Tulsa.

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Oklahoma State Cowboys RB Chuba Hubbard runs against Tulsa - Getty Images - Icon Sportswire
Getty Images - Icon Sportswire

Oklahoma State had sailed smoothly through their first two non-conference games of the season, beating Oregon State and McNeese with relative ease. Sure, there were some negative takeaways from each game, but the inevitable outcomes never really felt in jeopardy.

Then a trip to Tulsa happened on Saturday, and for the first time this season, the Cowboys were facing adversity. After taking a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, OSU went into the half trailing the Golden Hurricanes 21-20.

Spencer Sanders was playing like the freshman he is. The defense — dealing with even more defensive line depth issues than usual — was gassed. Suddenly what early in the game felt like a sure thing, now did not.

After a second-half starting drive that featured a hold, a false start, and a big play wiped out by the Cowboys having 12 men on the field, fans started to get nervous.

But the defense that was much maligned in that second quarter, adjusted. They got pressure on Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith. They slowed Hurricane running back Shamari Brooks down. Most importantly they kept Tulsa out of the endzone in route to a second-half shut-out.

Thanks to a big catch and run play by Tylan Wallace and some more impressive running by Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma state put up 13 unanswered points and put the game away, getting out of Tulsa with a 40-21 win that was obviously closer than the final score indicated.

Key Plays

14:50 1st [OSU 1st & 10 at OSU 25] – The Cowboys started the first half the same way the started the second half the weekend before; with a touchdown on the very first play. The dynamic running back Chuba Hubbard showed off his quickness, moves, and speed in route to a 75-yard touchdown run to open the game.

11:23 1st [OSU 1st & 10 at Tul 30] – After the OSU defense fored a 3-and-out, the Cowboys marched down the field and Chuba found the endzone for the second time to put the Cowboys up 14-0 quickly.

3:46 1st [Tul 1st & 10 at OSU 42] – Sanders had just thrown his first interception of the season and Tulsa was looking to capitalize. Down just 10 points, Tulsa was eyeing the endzone. But a Trey Sterling and Amen Ogbongbemiga pushed the Tulsa offense back eight yards. The Golden Hurricane didn’t gain a yard and were forced to punt.

2:29 2nd [Tul 1st & Goal at OSU 1] – Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks punched the ball in for his second touchdown of the day. After the extra point, the Golden Hurricanes had a one point lead they would take into the locker room at the half.

4:35 3rd [OSU 3rd & 7 at Tul 27] – It took the Cowboys a little while, but they finally retook the lead thanks to a 27-yard run by Spencer Sanders. It’s a lead OSU would not relinquish.

9:58 4th [Tul 4th & 5 at OSU 6] – Oklahoma State had a 12 point lead, but Tulsa was threatening to score thanks to a fumble by Spencer Sanders. But safety Kolby Harvell-Peel came through unblocked to sack Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith neutralizing the threat.

Key Stats

256 – Running back Chuba Hubbard’s 256 yards on the ground are a new single-game record. It’s the second time this season he has set a new personal best.

48 – That’s how many passes Spencer Sanders threw before his first interception. It’s the most by an Oklahoma State quarterback since Brandon Weeden (76).

0 – The number of points Tulsa scored in the second half. It’s Oklahoma State’s first second-half shut-out since Sept 8, 2018 vs. South Alabama.

Oklahoma State Key Players

  • Chuba Hubbard – 32 carries for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Also had one 13-yard kick return.
  • Tylan Wallace – 5 catches for 118 yards and one touchdown.
  • Malcolm Rodriguez 11 total tackles, including 1.5 TFLs. 1 quarterback hurry.
  • Kolby Harvell-Peel – 10 total tackles including one sack.

Remaining Thoughts

Defensive Line Still an Issue – We knew coming into the season that the defensive line and it’s lack of depth would be a problem. With even more guys than normal out of the line-up, it was a HUGE issue. The defensive coaching staff adjusted their game plan to compensate, but the Cowboys really need to get healthy and get both Israel Antwine and linebacker Calvin Bundage back playing to help this defense out.

Sanders is a Freshman – For those upset at Spencer Sanders’ performance; you knew he would have a game like this. He’s a freshman. It’s ok to be frustrated — as he visibly was in the second quarter — but don’t give up on the kid. You wanted him, you got him. He’s going to keep learning and growing. His performance on Saturday was subpar. The good thing is, it gives him and the coaching staff plenty to work on heading into Big 12 play.

Help Tylan – Speaking of things for Sanders to work on. I know Tylan Wallace is great with jump balls and beating cornerbacks that aren’t committing pass interference. But maybe throw the ball ahead of him and let Tylan go get it. It’s going to turn a lot more of these opportunities into six points.

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