Whatever football fireworks Oklahoma State planned for its offense have not materialized.
Running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace were surprisingly quiet through two games and quarterback Spencer Sanders is dealing with an ankle sprain that has kept him out since the first half of the opener.
Yet the No. 17 Cowboys stand 2-0 overall and at 1-0 in the Big 12 remain a likely contender for the conference crown. They play Saturday at Kansas (0-2, 0-1).
Hubbard is no slouch, netting 194 yards rushing, though L.D. Brown has been the Cowboys’ most dazzling rusher, averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Wallace has 10 catches for 177 yards.
“We certainly haven’t done enough on offense to win games,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of drowsy showings against Tulsa and West Virginia. “Our defense has played well, but our special teams has been the deciding factor in the first two games.”
Sophomore Alex Hale, a walk-on kicker from Australia, has made all five of his field goal attempts, while punt returner Dillon Stoner has a 20-yard punt return average.
Oklahoma State is allowing 10 points per game behind linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga, who shares the team lead with 17 tackles.
“They are playing fast, they’re coming together as a group and they’re playing reckless,” Gundy said.
The fact the Big 12 has stumbled out of the gate makes it even more conceivable Oklahoma State will challenge in the league chase. Preseason favorite Oklahoma lost its Big 12 opener and Texas opened its league schedule by going into overtime to edge Texas Tech.
In this unpredictable COVID-19 season of college football, the Big 12 could be as goofy as any conference. That’s all the more reason for the Cowboys not to take Kansas lightly.
The Jayhawks, guided by former Oklahoma State coach Les Miles, have been outmatched in decisive losses to Coastal Carolina and Baylor. The Baylor outcome marked the 50th consecutive Big 12 road defeat for Kansas, which has yet to gain any traction in Miles’ second season.
“If you give a good look at what we’re playing with, we’re playing with some really capable guys,” Miles said. “They need to grow and they need to experience college football. But they’re going to be good players, so we’re excited about it.”
One of the proven commodities, junior running back Pooka Williams, has gained 143 yards but is second on the team in rushing behind Velton Gardner (151). They have three of the Jayhawks’ five touchdowns.
Although that tandem is capable, the Jayhawks have struggled at quarterback. True freshman Jalon Daniels became the third QB to give it a go, starting at Baylor, but Kansas allowed 40 unanswered points and fell 47-14. Daniels, Thomas MacVittie and Miles Kendrick all remain options at quarterback.
Opposing rushers gouged the Jayhawks for 194 yards on average, a weakness Hubbard and Brown could expose.
Attendance will be capped at 10,000 in Lawrence after Kansas prohibited fans from its home opener against Coastal Carolina as part of COVID-19 safety protocols.
–Field Level Media