Tulsa World sports columnist Bill Haisten worded it perfectly at the University of Tulsa’s weekly news conference Tuesday: Oklahoma State might be offensively what Michigan State was defensively.
Two weeks ago, as the Golden Hurricane prepared for its season opener against Michigan State, the news conference was dominated by questions about the Spartans’ physical defense. TU’s next Power 5 opponent — in-state rival OSU on Saturday — is somewhat the opposite.
The Cowboys have tradition on the other side of the ball. Like the Spartans, OSU doesn’t necessarily struggle in the other phases of the game, but everything is definitely overshadowed by the Cowboys’ explosive offense.
“This is an extremely talented offense and an extremely talented team on both sides,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said. “So I think our defense is excited about stepping on the field and getting better. They know they’re going to be challenged in a different way this week. So they’re looking forward to the opportunity to kind of continue to measure ourselves and (see) where we’re at each and every week.”
Michigan State scored 28 on the Hurricane in Week 1, but that performance deserves an asterisk for TU’s defense. The Spartans offense found the end zone only once and started with the ball inside TU territory four times because of turnovers. Last week, the Hurricane held San Jose State to 16 in TU’s first win of the season.
“I just like how they play,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I think they are a good defense, and they are playing well.”
The Cowboys haven’t scored fewer than 50 points yet after games against Oregon State and McNeese State. OSU’s 54 points per game average is ninth-best nationally.
Most of the Cowboys’ offensive success can be credited to three standout players. Tylan Wallace, a Fred Biletnikoff Award finalist last year, has 272 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Both statistics are in the top five in the nation. Running back Chuba Hubbard is ninth in the country in rushing yards with 265, and has scored four TDs. Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders was honored as Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after passing for 250 yards, rushing for 51 and throwing three TD passes against McNeese.
The talent and numbers make it obvious the TU defense will face its toughest challenge Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. But OSU also hasn’t faced a defense as stingy as the Hurricane’s yet, either.
“We observe and examine everybody’s offense that we play, of course, that week,” TU defensive end Trevis Gipson said. “We brought our all to Michigan State. We brought our all to San Jose State. I feel like we’re gonna bring our all to Oklahoma State, also, regardless of who they have on offense, what their guys on offense have done to opposing teams. They’re gonna have to go through us at the end of the day.”