While summer seems to just be getting started, the college football season is quickly approaching. If you consider the day after OSU’s bowl victory over Missouri the start of the offseason and its season opener the end, we are nearly 80 percent through our drought of college football.
So with less than two months to go before that Friday night kickoff in Corvallis, Oregon, let’s look at the Cowboys’ Week 1 matchup with the other OSU and what storylines will rule that weekend.
First, the particulars.
When: Friday, August 30 at 9:30 p.m. Central
Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon
Line: Oklahoma State -16.5
The Pokes and the Beavers will be the featured late night draw for night two of the opening weekend of college football. It will be the only Power 5-on-P5 matchup on either Thursday or Friday and, despite the late kick, all eyes will be on the Cowboys looking to rebound from an uncharacteristic single-digit win season.
On the other hand, Oregon State, under first-year head coach Jonthan Smith, went 2-10 and 1-8 in the Pac-12 last season. The Beavers have totaled just nine wins over the last four seasons and haven’t gone bowling since 2013.
1. Biggest Question (It’s the Obvious One): Who Takes Snaps at QB?
The answer to this question will likely be answered publicly before the Cowboys head to Corvallis, but we’ll get our first chance to judge the coaches’ decision on that Friday nightcap.
Spencer Sanders, the assumed (or at least wished upon) savior of the program, or Dru Brown, the seasoned vet with two year’s worth of experience at the DI level?
We’ve looked at this race from every angle we can thing of — and will have come up with a dozen more by the end of August — but this is a huge year for Mike Gundy and OSU. Normally they go as their QB does.
This will be a huge game because, if nothing else, we’ll get our first look at the Cowboys offense and how Sean Gleeson and his QB can mesh and lead it.
2. Who Else Will be Taking Snaps?
The other OSU is also looking at a fall camp QB competition. Jake Luton was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing chunks of both the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injury. The 6-7 passer came was granted a medical hardship waiver and has his eye set on retaining QB1 duties. But he’ll have to fend off sophomore Tristan Gebbia, the former four-star Cali QB who transferred to Oregon State from Nebraska.
3. A Deep Receiving Corps
Yes, the [insert year] Cowboys return a deep and talented pool of receivers ready to put up boocoos of yards. But I’m, again, talking about the other OSU.
Oregon State returns 11 of 12 receivers from a year ago including tight ends. The group is headlined by junior Isaiah Hodgins and senior Trevon Bradford. The 6-4 Hodgins led the Beavers with 876 yards, 59 catches and five scores in his breakout sophomore season, and the dynamic Bradford chipped in 649 on 56 catches with six TDs of his own.
4. What Kind of Test Will OSU Provide?
We were quick to bemoan Oklahoma State’s 2018 defense — and mostly with good reason — for several head-scratching losses. But the other OSU has been a leaky sieve as of late.
In 2017, Oregon State’s defense ranked fourth-worst over the previous 14 seasons in S&P+ rating among Power conference teams. But last year’s Beaver D regressed even further, logging the worst S&P+ rating from any major conference since 2004. Last year’s Beavers defense ranked ahead of only the 1-11 UConn Huskies in both scoring defense (45.7 points per game) and total defense allowed (536.8 yards per game).
That means that whoever starts at quarterback for OSU will get his debut against the returning worst Power 5 defense over the last 15 years. So if Spencer Sanders slings it for 500 yards and combines for six TDs, we will all need to do our best, however futile it may be, to temper expectations moving forward.