Vitals: Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Wednesday, September 14th 2011, 5:28 pm
By: News 9

Gerald Goodridge & Grant Belcher,

No. 7/8 Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-0) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-1)
9:00 p.m. CST
H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Statistical Leaders:

  Oklahoma State Tulsa
Passing Brandon Weeden
66-94, 785 yds, 5 TDs
G.J. Kinne
39-62, 512 yds, 5 TDs
Rushing Joseph Randle
37 rushes, 250 yds, 4 TDs
Trey Watts
22 rushes, 103 yds
Receiving Justin Blackmon
20 rec, 272 yds, 2 TDs
Bryan Burnham
10 rec, 162 yds, 3 TDs


Where to find it…

On TV: Fox Sports Network

On Radio: Cowboy Radio Network

Injury Report:

Tulsa: WR Damaris Johnson (suspended)

Oklahoma State: LB Alex Elkins (probable, knee); FS Johnny Thomas (out, academics)

What you need to know

There's no other way to put it: Tulsa has officially the toughest non-conference schedule in college football this season. With games against OU, OSU and Boise State (all top 10 teams) in the preseason, it might be tough to tell the Golden Hurricane's true potential until the bulk of the Conference USA schedule rolls around. A 1-3 start might not look good on paper, but it wouldn't be any knock against the Golden Hurricane and first-year coach Bill Blankenship considering the circumstances if it were to happen.

But a 1-3 start isn't exactly a given for the Golden Hurricane. Despite Oklahoma State's blowout victory in Stillwater last season, Tulsa actually holds a decent advantage over the years for games played between the two teams in Tulsa. The key for TU in this matchup is the defense - as is the case with almost any team taking on the Cowboys. The Tulsa secondary is solid, but OSU might be the top passing attack it sees all season. Justin Blackmon demands attention from at least two defensive backs, and that leaves the other DBs to struggle with a solid core of complementary receivers.

Brandon Weeden - considered one of the nation's top passers coming into the season - has looked shaky at times in between large periods of brilliance for OSU. He admitted to forcing passes in the first week, resulting in a number of interceptions. All it will take for Tulsa is to create a couple of turnovers or get some key stops to keep their team in the game. G.J. Kinne and his receivers can keep up if their defense puts them in a good position. Forcing mistakes out of OSU while eliminating mistakes on their own side is essential for the Golden Hurricane.

The Cowboys' offense looks to be just as potent as it was a season ago, which could prove to be a big problem for the Golden Hurricane. OSU has racked up 1,260 total yards in just two games, while scoring an average of 49 points per contest to start the season. In the 2010 matchup, Oklahoma State seemingly had its way with Tulsa, scoring 65 points and 722 yards on just 77 total offensive plays for 9.4 yards per offensive snap.

There's no denying that if both teams play to their full potential, Oklahoma State has the advantage in almost every facet of the game. But even Cowboy fans might admit that their team perhaps haven't played up to its full potential. Which is a scary thought considering how flawless the Cowboys' offense appeared at times during the Thursday night win against Arizona. Having an extra two days to prepare for the game is another advantage working in OSU's favor. However, it will be the Cowboys' first road game, while Tulsa will be fired up for its first home game of the season.

Who you need to watch

Everyone knows by now that Tulsa's leading playmaker from last season, Damaris Johnson, is not playing in the game due to his indefinite suspension. But another playmaker stepped up in his absence in the second week for TU. Junior Bryan Burnham had a huge game against Tulane, pulling in 94 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Burnham and the rest of the receiving staff will have to continue their high level of play, especially with the OSU game and a matchup against Boise State still remaining in non-conference.

Meanwhile, TU coach Bill Blankenship turned some heads in the preseason when he said the best quarterback in the state didn't play in the Big 12. G.J. Kinne threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns against Tulane a week after going up against Heisman hopeful Landry Jones in week one. Saturday's game against Oklahoma State invites yet another quarterback battle between Kinne and Weeden. The two have slightly different playing styles, with Weeden a pro-style pocket passer and Kinne more of a dual-threat who can beat teams on the ground.

After his performance last season filling in for Kendal Hunter, it is no surprise that Joseph Randle is succeeding in the Oklahoma State offense. Through two games, the sophomore running back is averaging 179 total yards - good for fourth in the nation - and has scored four times. Safety Daytawion Lowe was called into action two weeks ago to fill in for suspended safety Johnny Thomas. The sophomore from Carl Albert High School has performed admirably, racking up 13 total tackles, the second-highest total on the team, two passes broken up and a forced fumble.

Running back Jeremy Smith began to establish his identity in OSU's game against Arizona after a relatively weak opening game. Smith had 65 yards and a touchdown against the Wildcats, much of it coming later in the game after the defense had worn down. Smith has a bulky frame and has shown the ability to go straight through defenders. Though Randle is obviously the team's starting back and one of its top playmakers, Randle and Smith look to be the next "thunder and lightning" running back combo that OSU has become known for over the years.