The Big 12 began its college football season last weekend, and to say things did not go as planned might be a bit of an understatement. That said, it might be best for everyone involved to have a low-key weekend during Week 3 action before the Big 12 teams begin tearing one another apart as conference play opens Sept. 26.
There are, however, two games involving Big 12 teams Saturday. The only one featuring a ranked team kicks off at noon ET when No. 11 Oklahoma State hosts Tulsa. This game was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but was pushed back a week due to COVID-19.
This should be a good warmup game for the Cowboys, but as we've seen already, there have been few warmups in a year when offseason practices have been disrupted as much as they have. Still, Oklahoma State is clearly the better team and returns some serious star power on offense. Namely: running back Chuba Hubbard and receiver Tylan Wallace. Will Oklahoma State do what it needs to do against Tulsa before heading into conference play? Or will a feisty opponent that was probably a little better than its record showed last year play spoiler for yet another dark horse Big 12 team?
Oklahoma State: Obviously, Hubbard is the focal point. He was not only the FBS' leading rusher last year, but also the focus of offseason headlines by (briefly) threatening to boycott the season after Mike Gundy's OAN shirt kerfuffle. Hubbard is a big-play threat and a Heisman Trophy candidate if he has a major season. How he starts will be something to watch. And while quarterback Spencer Sanders is the starter, freshman Shane Illingworth has reportedly been impressive as well and there's been some buzz about him. Could he see the field at all? This offense has all the tools to be one of college football's best -- top-end playmakers and a seasoned O-line -- so it'll need to come out firing against Tulsa's defense.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane were actually my pick for the AAC's most underrated team. They're heavy road dogs here and for good reason, but I am interested in any improvements they might show, especially on defense. That side of the ball is now without top pass rusher Trevis Gipson and will be breaking in a lot of new starters in the secondary. That's not a great combination against a team like Oklahoma State. If the Golden Hurricane are going to pull the upset, or even scare the Cowboys, it might need to be in a shootout.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 19 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium -- Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
I'll give Philip Montgomery's program this: they don't give up and could make life difficult for a team that overlooks them. I just don't know if quarterback Zach Smith and Co. have what it takes to actually win as a massive dog on the road. Could they cover? Maybe -- ranked teams haven't been amazing against the spread so far. But I think Oklahoma State shows it's not in the same tier as Iowa State and other Big 12 teams that struggled in Week 2. Pick: Oklahoma State -23
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