This upcoming NFL season should offer plenty of intrigue for Oklahoma State fans interested in following their favorite orange alums. Over the last couple of years, an exciting crop of players have made it to the league, and they’re just starting to make their marks.
James Washington could be set for a breakout season, there are a couple of young playmakers in Seattle in Chris Carson and Tre Flowers who should only get better and I’m excited to see how Justice Hill looks as a rookie in Baltimore.
With the recent release of the schedule, I thought it would be interesting to see when we might get some orange-on-orange matchups. Here are the OSU-vs.-OSU games I’m the most excited about this fall.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (Week 1)
When: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 12 p.m. Central
Where: Miami Gardens, Florida
Why to watch: Justice Hill could get his first NFL carry in South Beach. When he does, he may very well be trying to elude his former teammate, Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor. Taylor has finished his two pro seasons on Miami’s IR list after a broken foot sidelined him for the last eight games of 2018.
But before going down, Taylor had made strides in his second year. At the time of his injury, he was the team’s No. 2-rated defender according to Pro Football Focus and the 19th-best interior D-lineman in the league.
If Justice does break free for one of his patented home run plays, hopefully it’s not at the expense of Taylor.
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 2)
When: Sunday, Sept. 15 at 12 p.m.
Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Why: This is an intriguing matchup for former Pokes on both teams who may very well line up opposite each other in Tre Flowers and James Washington.
The Seahawks converted Flowers — a college safety they drafted in the fifth round — into a cornerback, and he went on to start in all 15 games he appeared in his first year. He will look to build off of that impressive rookie campaign and solidify his role in the Seahawks’ secondary.
Across the line, another second-year player will be looking to move up the receiver pecking order in Pittsburgh now that Antonio Brown is gone. Can Washington push for a starting role and the No. 2 spot behind JuJu Smith-Schuster? This could make up for a fierce battle between a couple of former teammates who haven’t faced off since they met on the practice field in Stillwater.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 3)
When: Sunday, Sept. 22 at 12 p.m.
Where: Kansas City, Missouri
Why: Another look at Justice as he tries to jump cut another former OSU D-lineman out of his cleats. The Ravens will face a new-look Chiefs defense including Emmanuel Ogbah, who was traded to Kansas City from Cleveland.
Ogbah will be fighting from behind in the depth chart for the first time in his career. (He started all 40 games he played for the Browns the last three years.) As it sits now, he is likely the second or third option behind fellow newcomers Frank Clark and Alex Okafor.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 5 and Week 17)
When: Sunday, Oct. 6 at 12 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 29 at 12 p.m.
Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland
Why: I lumped these two together.
Other than the fact that it will be a reunion of one of OSU’s most productive triplets ever, I’ll be intrigued to see how opposite playmakers Justice Hill and James Washington have grown into their new roles by Week 5, and then again by the final week of the regular season. Then add in the extra sauce of it being a division rivalry and the first of potentially many matchups between the group.
Barring injury, we aren’t likely to see much of Mason Rudolph, unless playoff seeding isn’t in question for the Steelers heading into Week 17. But it will be telling if he hasn’t usurped Josh Dobbs for the QB2 role by the end of the year.
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (Week 7)
When: Sunday, Oct. 20 at 3:25 p.m.
Where: Seattle, Washington
Why: The battle of the former Cowboy RB1s.
Chris Carson solidified his role as Seattle’s starting running back in Year 2, but Justice Hill will look to elbow his way into the rotation behind Pro Bowler Mark Ingram. But I’m excited to see these two former Pokes go head-to-head, if we get that opportunity.
The two competed for reps in 2016 with Hill eventually taking the reins when Carson was injured, and the freshman never gave them up. I wonder if there are any remaining competitive juices between the two. Either way, it should make for an exciting matchup.
And don’t forget Tre Flowers, who was effective in run support from the corner position last year. He might be looking mix it up with the Ravens rookie.