Hubbard leads No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa

Field Level Media

September 15, 2020 at 8:41 pm.

No. 11 Oklahoma State is finally ready to unleash its potent offense in 2020.

The Cowboys’ season opener was postponed a week because Tulsa asked for a delay after being limited in practice due to COVID-19 protocols. The teams will meet Saturday in a nonconference game at OSU’s Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

“They’ve had so many changes over the last few months, I don’t think it affected them much at all,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of his players.

Business as usual would be welcome news for the Cowboys, who return the nation’s leading rusher (Chuba Hubbard) and a 2018 All-American receiver (Tylan Wallace).

Hubbard rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Wallace had 903 receiving yards on 53 receptions through nine games last year before going down with a knee injury that prompted him to put off the NFL. The senior caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 scores in 2018.

Directing it all is third-year sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders, who was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last season, passing for 2,065 yards.

Sanders and new coordinator Kasey Dunn (promoted from receivers coach) have a new weapon in Washington State transfer receiver Tay Martin, who joined the team in late August and is immediately eligible. Martin, who has 143 career receptions for 1,615 yards and 18 touchdowns, should be a good fit schematically at OSU after playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.

“I would expect him to get an extensive number of snaps in Saturday’s game,” said Gundy, whose team went 8-5 last season and averaged 32.5 points per game.

Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference was 4-8 last season, including a 40-21 home loss to Oklahoma State. The Golden Hurricane have enough returning on offense to threaten a veteran Cowboys defense.

The Golden Hurricane’s backfield includes senior running backs Shamari Brooks (2,700 career yards) and Corey Taylor II (1,490 career yards). Tulsa also has, among others, bigger back T.K. Wilkerson (220 yards, six TDs last season), Texas A&M transfer Deneric Prince, and Missouri transfer Anthony Watkins is immediately eligible.

“This is the deepest running back room that we’ve had since I’ve been here — guys who are very talented all (down the) line,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said in the Tulsa World. “You know it’s going to start with Shamari and it’s going to start with Corey, guys who have been getting it done here for us for a long time. I thought T.K. really showed what he could do last year and he’s a different style of back.”

The Golden Hurricane also has senior quarterback Zach Smith. The former Baylor transfer started 12 games for Tulsa last season, passing for 3,279 yards and 19 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. Top target Keylon Stokes, another senior, is back after snagging 62 passes for 1,040 yards and six scores.

Hubbard ran for 256 yards against Tulsa last season, breaking off three touchdown runs of 30-plus yards, including a 75-yarder. Hubbard, a product of Edmonton, Canada, has a dynamic burst that contributed to him ripping off seven runs of 50-plus yards last season, the most in the nation.

Oklahoma State is expecting a crowd of just over 15,000 in Stillwater, limited by physical distancing because of COVID-19 safety protocols.