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Game 1 Preview: OSU Must Slow MSU QB in Season-Opener

Taking a look at OSU’s season opener against Missouri State.

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The first game Mike Gundy put on to scout Missouri State, the Bears hung 43 points on an SEC school.

It was Missouri State’s first game in 2017 against in-state rival Missouri. Peyton Huslig, the Bears’ quarterback threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns on the road.

“That just happened to be the first game I watched,” Gundy said. “I thought, ‘This is not good.’”

Scoring 43 points is impressive for any team, but the bad news for Missouri State that day was that it  gave up 72.

The Bears struggled in 2017, going 3-8 and finishing eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Missouri State’s record against Oklahoma State won’t provide the Bears much more confidence. The Cowboys are 7-0 against Missouri State all time, with the closest game coming in 1996 where OSU won 23-20 in what The Oklahoman’s Scott Wright wrote about being the first NCAA Division I-A overtime game. In total, the Cowboys have outscored the Bears 294-83.

All seven of the teams’ shared games have been in Stillwater. In 2014, their most recent meeting, the fountain outside Edmon Low Library was dyed maroon during the Thursday night before the game. and J.W. Walsh was injured during the game, eventually leading to the start of the Mason Rudolph era later that season. OSU won that game 40-23.

This season, the Bears offense will live and die on Huslig. He is a junior entering his second season at MSU after spending his freshman year at Garden City Community College (Kansas), the same junior college that OSU starting left tackle Arlington Hambright came from. The two won a NJCAA National Championship together in 2016.

Huslig led the Bears in rushing and passing in 2017, accumulating 2,602 total yards and 13 touchdowns. He did, however, struggle with interceptions last season, throwing 11 in comparison to his nine passing touchdowns.

Without his three top receivers from last season, Huslig’s new favorite target is reported to be Lorenzo Thomas. Thomas, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, caught 15 passes as a freshman for 184 yards. Gundy is also reading reports out of Springfield. When asked Friday how he knew about Huslig’s favorite targets or defensive players the Bears have, Gundy said he’s done his homework.

“Well, I just read the paper,” Gundy said. “It could be fake news. That’s a pretty big subject nowadays.”

This year marks the second straight the Cowboys will begin their season on a Thursday. At Friday’s media availability, the OSU players didn’t seem to mind the early start, especially with it being the first game of the season.

“(Football season starting) isn’t going to hit me until Thursday comes around, we’re doing the walk, suiting up and hitting the quarterback,” OSU defensive end Jordan Brailford said. “For the first game, I don’t really mind a Thursday game. It’s preseason, and it gets here faster than Saturday.”

Tune in

When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium
TV: FS1 (Joel Klatt, Gus Johnson and Jenny Taft)
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker and John Holcomb)
Internet Radio: okla.st/osutunein

More on the Missouri State game

Five things to know about Missouri State
MSU’s young receiving corps gives cowboys chance for aggression 
X’s and O’s primer on the Bears’ offense

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