CORVALLIS, Oregon — Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders won the starting job, but it was running back Chuba Hubbard who stole the show in the Cowboys' season opener. Hubbard rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cowboys cruised to a 52-36 victory over Oregon State on Friday night. Sanders, a redshirt freshman, opened the game at starting quarterback. He threw only one pass (for 1 yard) in the Cowboys' opening scoring drive. Hubbard had four carries for 55 yards and a touchdown in the drive. Sanders and Hawaii transfer Dru Brown battled during fall camp for the job, but despite OSU coach Mike Gundy saying he might play two quarterbacks, Sanders started and played until the final series. He was 19-of-24 for 203 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for more than 100 yards.
Oregon State's Jake Luton threw for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns, but the Cowboys pulled away with a 24-6 second quarter.
Guerin Emig: Spencer Sanders was dazzling in debut, but veterans Tylan Wallace, Chuba Hubbard are OSU's MVPs
Spencer Sanders starts at QB, and Chuba Hubbard stars at running back as Cowboys roll
First down ¦ Story of the game
So many weapons Oregon State’s defense has enough trouble against one gifted offensive player. Oklahoma State threw three of them at the Beavers Friday night, and it was an utter mismatch. Chuba Hubbard barreled through and hopped over Oregon State defenders. Tylan Wallace treated the multiple Beaver defensive backs who tried to cover him like annoyances. And quarterback Spencer Sanders lived up to his dual threat promise. The result was four touchdowns and a field goal on the Cowboys’ five first half possessions, and plenty of moments for the three NFL scouts watching from the press box to remember. — Guerin Emig, Tulsa World
Second down ¦ Matchup that mattered
Hubbard vs. the Oregon State run defense The Beavers couldn’t stop a slug from rushing for 100 yards against them a year ago. It figured Oklahoma State would notice and turn loose Hubbard, particularly with freshman Sanders making his debut at quarterback. The Cowboys noticed. Hubbard carried 17 times for 132 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s decisive first half (another 39-yard touchdown run was nullified by a holding penalty). He had 213 yards and three scores by the end of the third quarter. Also worth mentioning — the Pokes’ experienced offensive line, with a big assist from Cowboy back Logan Carter, erased would-be tacklers all night. Hubbard starred, but the help he received was a welcome change from Justice Hill having to do an awful lot on his own the past three years. — Guerin Emig, Tulsa World
Third down ¦ Game MVP
Sanders in a photo finish over Hubbard and Wallace We knew how dynamic Wallace was. We got a hint of Hubbard’s promise as Hill’s understudy. None of us had any idea how Sanders would perform in his first college action of any kind. That made his Friday night a tad more impressive. The kid made plays, sure, but don’t overlook his poise. He didn’t blink after Oregon State put up a quick 7-0 lead. He didn’t flinch the few times the Beavers applied pressure. One game doesn’t guarantee Sanders’ success, but the youngster sure has a four-quarter foundation to build on. That bodes very well. — Guerin Emig, Tulsa World
Fourth down ¦ What’s next
Home opener The Cowboys play their home opener next Saturday at 6 p.m. against FCS McNeese State. McNeese is coached by Sterlin Gilbert, who gets his shot to coach a college program for the first time after serving as offensive coordinator at Tulsa (2015), Texas (2016), South Florida (2017-18) and a few other schools the past decade. McNeese went 9-2 in 2017 before slipping to 6-5 last year. McNeese opens its season Saturday against Southern University. — Guerin Emig, Tulsa World
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OKLAHOMA STATE AT OREGON STATE 9:30 p.m. Friday, Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon TV: FS1 Radio: KFAQ-1170 Satellite: Sirius 119, XM 197 Records (last season): OSU 7-6; Oregon State 2-10 All-time series: First meeting
James Aydelotte's forecast: Clear skies and kickoff temperature near 70°.
First down | Top storyline
Quarterback battle Questions have surrounded the quarterback position all summer long. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy will be forced to name a starter by game time, but expect both Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders to see playing time Friday. This is an opportunity for one quarterback to separate himself from the other.
Second down | Key matchup
Oklahoma State D-line vs. Oregon State O-Line Beavers running back Jermar Jefferson averaged 115 yards per game last season. He’ll be running behind an experienced offensive line, while the Cowboys are bringing a defensive line to Corvallis that has a combined zero career starts.
Third down | Player to watch
Malcolm Rodriguez Rodriguez started 10 games at safety last season, but is listed as the starting linebacker heading into Friday. This will be an interesting game for Rodriguez in his new role.
Fourth down | Who wins and why?
Cowboys run to opening victory
From Guerin Emig: I have no idea what OSU is getting out of the quarterbacks Friday night, but Chuba Hubbard against Oregon State’s plastic defense should be a sure thing. Hubbard and LD Brown pound away, and the Cowboys win methodically, 40-26.
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