Oklahoma State quarterback
True freshman Shane Illingworth, who played in place of Sanders earlier in the year, led the Cowboys to a touchdown on the drive in which Sanders exited. Illingworth cut Oklahoma State’s deficit to 21-7 with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Logan Carter late in the first quarter.
Saturday night’s showdown in Norman marked the 115th all-time meeting between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The series, which dates back to 1904, has been dominated by the Sooners, who came into this year’s meeting with an 89-18-17 mark against their in-state rival. Oklahoma also carried a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s matchup. However, Oklahoma State’s last win over OU in the series came in Norman back in 2015.
This year’s encounter figured to pit strength vs. strength. Oklahoma, led by first-year starting quarterback Spencer Rattler, is the Big 12’s best offense statistically, while Oklahoma State leads the conference in defense.
But it’s not as if Oklahoma State’s offense is void of firepower. Sanders, who has battled injuries during the last couple of seasons, was healthy again and capable of putting the Cowboys on his back. His favorite target is Tylan Wallace, who came into this week leading the Big 12 in receiving yards. And then there’s running back Chuba Hubbard, who ran for more than 2,000 yards a season ago but has struggled to keep up his pace from 2019.
“Our defense has played really well this season, and it’s obvious our offense has not been as productive,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said earlier this week. “We’re down three offensive linemen, and we’re playing two freshman guards. When you’re playing freshman guards, you have two things that are going on and it’s no secret they’re not as strong as they need to be to play at this level and they’re not as experienced. Offensively we’re trying to play or be compatible with our defense and our special teams. We need to play a well-rounded football game. Defensively, this is a real challenge this week with the skill set that Oklahoma has on the perimeter, and the most athletic quarterback that we’ve played up to this point. Offensively we have to find way to maneuver and get more points than we’ve been able to get over the last few weeks.”
OU took its shots early in the season, falling from the preseason top 10 with upset losses to Kansas State and Iowa State. But ever since, the Sooners have been humming, especially on the offensive side of the ball. During Oklahoma’s four-game winning streak coming into Bedlam, the Sooners defeated Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas while averaging 52.2 points per game.
“And, you know, this game has always been competitive and it’s always been important throughout,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said about the annual game vs. the Cowboys. “Every single one of them that I’ve been involved in has had [huge implications], maybe been the most influential game in the Big 12 those seasons, just about every one of them. And so the quality of ball has been good. There have been a lot of great players, a lot of them that are making plays on Sundays from both sides right now that have been a part of it. So, no, it’s been fun. I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to come out on the upper hand, but that’s not going to mean anything at 6:30 Saturday. It’s going to take all we’ve got to play at a level that we expect to play.”