College football continues on Thursday night, as the traditional Week 1 Thursday night slate takes shape. Last weekend opened the season up for us, but this is technically Week 1 as well. It’s the true opening weekend, with a full card of action on Saturday. There were only two ranked teams in play last week. I am looking for an exciting weekend of college football, notably FSU-Alabama and Michigan-Florida. They should both be entertaining affairs, and I am sure there will be a couple of watchable games tonight, too. Oklahoma State would rather this not be so entertaining and run away with this one on Thursday. The Cowboys will welcome the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to get a season filled with expectations going.
There are big expectations for Oklahoma State in 2017, and it begins with quarterback Mason Rudolph. The senior is looking for a head turning campaign, one that could perhaps elevate him to a Heisman level. If he plays his cards right, the Heisman could be within reach. Oklahoma State finished a respectable 10-3 in 2016, but there are loftier goals to meet this season. They concluded the year with a 38-8 win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Colorado had one of the better defenses in college football, and the Cowboys sliced thru it like butter. Sefo Liufau was playing on one leg, so that helped some, too.
Oklahoma State will come in with a stacked offense. Rudolph threw for 28 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 2016. He and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma will be going toe-to-toe for recognition in the Big 12. They both have similar offenses that can put up a lot of points. I think what it’ll come down to is defense.
Whichever wants to step up and play some defense will come out of this conference atop of it. The Big 12 is known for not much defense and a lot of points on the board. Patrick Mahomes was putting up staggering numbers in college, but he didn’t get much attention because of how bad the Texas Tech defense was. Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State will have that bad of a defense, but it does go to show you that others can help a quarterback out considerably.
Tulsa goes into Boone Pickens Stadium without a clear starter at quarterback. They are a team that usually doesn’t have any question marks at quarterback, but Dane Evans is gone after passing for 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a senior. Luke Skipper and Chad President have been battling it out in training camp. I expect both to get a look, especially if the starter falters. Both are mobile, but don’t have the throwing ability of Evans. The Tulsa offensive line will be a strength, so they do have that to work with. Get more insight below, along with our free Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State pick.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Betting Odds:
@Oklahoma State -17.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State Pick:
We come into Thursday on a 3-0 winning streak and will look to go into Saturday with a favorable record from tonight. All eyes will be on Mason Rudolph tonight. It isn’t just a one-man show though, the Cowboys have some horses around him that can make it tough on opposing defenses. It won’t be just the passing game, Oklahoma State should be able to find success on the ground as well. Justice Hill returns at running back, where he ran for 1,142 yards as a freshman, tops in the FBS out of all freshman.
The air-attack will be fun to watch at Oklahoma State, though. Rudolph will have one of the best receiving cores in the nation to operate with. James Washington led the FBS with an average reception of 19.4 yards. Look for him to be a burner, stretching the field and coming up with big plays. Expect a potent running game to pull the defense in, and then watch Rudolph go over the top to Washington. Also, Jalen McCleskey and Marcell Atemen are receivers that defenses cannot ignore, Tulsa can’t let them go free and only focus on Washington.
Tulsa may have to double Washington, but at the same time, they won’t be able to without Rudolph checking down his other options. Remember, Tulsa can’t ignore Justice Hill out of the backfield either. If there is anyway to beat Oklahoma State, it’s going to come with getting into a shootout and outscoring them. I don’t expect Tulsa to be able to keep up here. They shouldn’t keep up, nor will they keep this game within 18 points. In other words, I like a pick on Oklahoma State to cover the spread against Tulsa.