No. 10 Oklahoma State routs Tulsa 59-24
STILLWATER, Okla. — For openers, Oklahoma State sought a statement.
Delivered, immediate and decisive, as the No. 10-ranked Cowboys routed Tulsa 59-24 on Thursday night in the season opener for both schools.
Before a sellout crowd of 56,790 at Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State confirmed its big-play offense and its early high placement in the polls.
The Golden Hurricane, coming off a 10-win season, entered the game with questions at quarterback and exited without any revelations at the position.
Tulsa was looking to make a statement, too, facing a Power 5 opponent and an instate opponent that commands more of the spotlight. Instead, the Golden Hurricane lost their 24th straight game against a top-10 opponent.
The Cowboys totaled 640 yards and averaged 10.2 yards per play. Of their eight touchdowns, five covered 40 yards or more, including a defensive score.
“We have a lot of guys who can make plays,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “We’ve got receivers who can run and catch it. We’ve got running backs who can run it pretty good. That’s not a secret. And I thought our defense played great. We were in the bend mode, don’t break.
“We’ve got a long ways to go. Obviously, it’s a good start.”
Quarterback Mason Rudolph opened a possible Heisman Trophy campaign with a big night, completing 20-of-24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
James Washington, the headliner of a touted receiver group, caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 77-yard bomb in the second quarter. Tailback Justice Hill ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
The Cowboys nearly produced three 100-yard rushers, as freshman tailback J.D. King added 95 yards and a touchdown and redshirt freshman LD Brown finished with 92 yards and a score.
“I thought coming into it they were probably the most talented team I’ve seen them have,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “They have a lot of weapons. Their quarterback is playing great and it doesn’t look like they missed a beat.”
Even the defense got in on the big-play scoring, with linebacker Kenneth Edison-McGruder romping 82 yards with a fumble return.
Tulsa used both quarterbacks competing to replace record-setter Dane Evans, with Chad President drawing the start, with relief from Luke Skipper. President played the most, finishing 18-of-35 passing for 178 yards. Tailback Corey Taylor II ran for 111 yards and two scores.
The Cowboys led 21-0 after three possessions. And three big plays.
With the opening possession, Rudolph took Oklahoma State 74 yards, completing 4-of-5 passes (with the incompletion a drop). The final connection covered 44 yards to receiver Tyron Johnson, who scored his first touchdown for the Cowboys.
Rudolph was firing again soon, sending Oklahoma State in front 14-0 with a 40-yard strike to Washington. Then it was Hill on a 3-yard scoring run, following a 49-yard catch and run by receiver Marcell Ateman.
“We came out early explosive, made a lot of plays out there,” Rudolph said. “Those receivers made a lot of plays. We blocked well. Justice ran the ball tremendously.
“Scoring early, scoring often, that’s something we hadn’t done in the past as well. I was happy with the way we jumped on them quick. I don’t think it could have started any better.”
After failing to reach Cowboys territory in the first quarter, Tulsa found some life in an Oklahoma State mistake.
Jalen McCleskey, back on a punt return, chased a bounding ball inside his own 5, retrieved it, then fumbled, leaving Golden Hurricane deep snapper Adam Higuera to pounce on it for a Tulsa touchdown.
King almost immediately restored the three-touchdown lead, romping 71 yards on a run up the middle for a score. But Tulsa responded with its first sustained drive, marching 75 yards with running Taylor scoring on a 3-yard run.
“We’re going to fight for 60 minutes and it doesn’t matter what the score is or whether we’re on top or we’re on bottom,” Montgomery said. “I was really proud of the way our guys continued to fight and grind.”
Oklahoma State added a field goal and another Washington deep strike, this one a 77-yard touchdown reception from Rudolph to lead 38-17 at the half.
NOTES: Oklahoma State and Tulsa, separated by 69 miles of turnpike, have played 72 times. The Cowboys now own a 40-27-5 edge in the series and are 25-6-3 in games played in Stillwater. OSU has won six straight dating to 1999. The only school Oklahoma State has faced more than Tulsa is Oklahoma. For Tulsa, Oklahoma State and Arkansas are tied for its longest series... The game was officially a sellout at 56,790. ... Oklahoma State nearly had as many first downs (16) as Tulsa had points (17) in the opening half.