College football has always been about the survival of the fittest but the challenges of living life, and playing football, in the season of COVID-19 is going to take surviving to a whole new level. That’s why Oklahoma State fans should breathe a small sigh of relief after Saturday’s struggle to the finish line in a 16-7 win over Tulsa. Yes, it’s alright to be frustrated and relieved at the same time. Think about Iowa State fans for just a minute. The folks up there have been living in frustration for a week now with no relief. That’s how much difference surviving makes. OSU survived on Saturday and that can’t be overlooked during the frustrating aftermath.
The Cowboy offense began the game with a 17-play drive that resulted in a field goal. It wasn’t pretty but it showed promise until Spencer Sanders was injured. The following offensive series as a one-play drive that resulted in a fumble from an attempted handoff from Sanders to Chuba Hubbard. That was the last play in the game for Sanders and the beginning of rising frustrations. Ethan Bullock (aka the new Alex Cate) came in to relieve Sanders and from the outset was behind the play, indecisive, could not come off the first read, and clearly in over his head and the rest of the half was a dismal display of offense. The defense, however, had an impressive performance in lieu of giving up a lone touchdown. The Cowboys did not allow Tulsa to convert a third down the entire game (0-for-11) and held the Golden Hurricane to 278 total yards of offense .
After trailing 7-3 at half true freshman Shane Illingworth was finally given a chance at quarterback, following a couple more dismal drives led by Bullock. Illingworth saved the day for the Cowboys, leading an impressive drive that resulted in Hubbard’s first touchdown of the season and then another that resulted in a field goal to put OSU up 13-7.
The defense held up their end of the bargain with a second half shut out and a opening day crisis was adverted thanks to an unlikely hero at quarterback. Illingworth, a true freshman, looked comfortable under center and made overwhelmingly smart decisions with the ball. He got Tylan Wallace back into the game and forced the Tulsa defense, who had been committed to stopping Hubbard and being physical on the sidelines with Wallace, soften up. The Hurricanes paid the price in penalties as well with 15 flags for 120 yards.
At the end of the day, the defense showed up and won the game for Oklahoma State and the future looks bright with Shane Illingworth if the Cowboys need to depend on him should Sander’s injury linger. In other words they survived to fight another day and that day is coming rather quickly. The West Virginia Mountaineers visit Stillwater on Saturday for a 2:30 tilt in the conference opener.
Oklahoma State Stat Leaders
Shane Illingworth 4/5, 74 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Chuba Hubbard 27 carries, 93 yards, 1 TD
Tylan Wallace 4 receptions, 94 yards, 0 TD
Tulsa Stat Leaders
Zach Smith 18/28, 164 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Deneric Prince 14 carries, 82 yards, 0 TD
Keylon Stokes 4 receptions, 55 yards, 0 TD
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