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CFB Overtime: The prelims are over — now the tests begin

(Photo: Getty)

1. OKLAHOMA STATE HAS SOME PROBLEMS

Oklahoma State beat Tulsa because of a facemask penalty. You read that correctly. The No. 11 Cowboys, hyped all offseason as a playoff dark horse, escaped an upset because Devin Harper reached out and tried to yank Deneric Prince to the ground. It sort of worked, slowing Prince’s momentum so he couldn’t take advantage of an unimpeded path to the end zone. Instead of a 14-10 lead, the Golden Hurricanes attempted a 26-yard field goal to tie the game later in the drive. Hooked left. The Cowboys would escape with a 17-7 victory – the final three points came in garbage time. 

There are excuses you could make for Oklahoma State: 1. Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders exited in the first half with an injury. 2. A up-and-down offseason that prevented a consistent practice schedule. 3. Tulsa is pretty good! 

Rebuttals are easier to find: 1. The offense, led by two of the best skill players in America (Tylan Wallace, Chuba Hubbard) shouldn’t be immediately be rendered moot by a key injury. Oklahoma State managed just 287 total yards, only the third time since 2015 it failed to reach the 300-yard mark. 2. Oklahoma State had far more practice time than Tulsa, which had a large enough COVID-19 outbreak that the program paused for nine days in fall camp. 3. The Golden Hurricanes haven’t beaten their in-state competition since the 90s. 

This was an abhorrent start for the Cowboys, a mess highlighted by a floundering offensive line. 

Entering the year, it was easy to ignore questions for the Cowboy front. Hubbard and Wallace are among the best at their positions nationally. They’re flanked by a deep skill group. Those players help make up for a lack of experience along the o-line, right? Nope. Not even a little. Oklahoma State returned just one starter along its front. The depth is so bad that recently elevated walk-on Jake Springfield ended the game as the Cowboys’ left tackle.

Tulsa finished the afternoon with six sacks, which is nearly half the 14 it managed all of last season, and 14 (FOURTEEN) tackles for loss. Losing Sanders really hurt the Cowboy offense, his mobility a boon that can help cover for the o-line’s weaknesses. But it’s telling that Hubbard, among the best backs in college football, managed just 3.4 yards per carry. 

A veteran Oklahoma State defense played well. The Cowboy skill talent is excellent. Yet it’s nearly impossible for the Cowboys to compete with the best of the Big 12 week in and week out if it’s o-line plays like this. 

Congrats to the Sooners and Longhorns. The rest of the Big 12 looks horrible. 

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