OSU on Thursday was served up kick times and television programming information for its 2021 nonconference slate against Missouri State, Tulsa and Boise State. It features two night games — one at BPS and another in Boise — along with a morning kick sandwiched between those against Tulsa on Sept. 11.
With those games now set, I wanted to take a closer look at each of those three opponents and try to get a better idea of the matchups. Here is my attempt below with some chicken scratch notes included that I think could determine the outcomes.
6 p.m. Sept. 4 — OSU vs. Missouri State
Venue: Boone Pickens Stadium
What to know about Missouri State: This Bobby Petrino-coached (!) program is in year two under his tenure. The first was a whirlwind — the Bears played three nonconference games in the fall (in Sept. and Oct.) then a full conference schedule in the spring, where they went 5-2.
MSU’s defense was key to its success in the first season under Petrino. That’s in part because offense at times was something of a slog. Redshirt freshman QB Jaden Johnson, senior Matt Struck and freshman Jake Van Dyne combined for 155-of-284 passing, five touchdowns and 10 INTs on the season. On the ground success was marginal as well, with the team averaging 3.3 yards per carry on 377 attempts.
Scoring on this defense might be a challenge for OSU’s offense out of the gate given the weapons it has to defend the pass and rush the quarterback, but defending this offense might be an easy way for OSU’s veteran-laden defense to whet its early-season appetite.
Prediction: OSU 45, Missouri State 10
11 a.m. Sept. 11 — OSU vs. Tulsa
Venue: Boone Pickens Stadium
What to know about Tulsa: Tulsa’s best player, Zaven Collins, is off to the NFL after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals with a first-round pick earlier this spring. The Golden Hurricane are also replacing starting QB Zach Smith. But they bring back Davis Brin, who in spurts flashed star power at the QB position last season. Every pass-catcher of significance appears to be returning as well, with six of its leading receivers listed on TU’s 2021 roster. That group is led by Keylon Stokes and Juancarlo Santana, who combined for 1,188 yards receiving and 80 catches in 2020. Josh Johnson, the team’s leader in touchdown receptions with six in 2020, is also on the team’s 2021 roster.
On the ground, leading rusher Corey Taylor II departs but Deneric Prince, who averaged a team-leading 5.3 yards per carry on 88 attempts last season, is back. So, too, is Shamari Brooks — the team’s top talent at the position who missed 2020 with a torn ACL.
Prediction: OSU 41, Tulsa 30
8 p.m. Sept. 18 — OSU at Boise State
Venue: Albertsons Stadium in Boise
What to know about Boise: Former four-star QB Hank Bachmeier is the one to watch here. He had a good-not-great sophomore season in which he amassed 1,150 yards through the air for six scores in seven games. Backup Jack Sears also looked good, and the former USC product was plenty efficient. (TL;DR: The QB situation looks like it’ll be a challenge to OSU’s defense.) Leading receiver Khalil Shakir and leading rusher Andrew Van Buren are also listed on the team’s 2021 roster, giving the Broncos their top skill talents. This is a team with the goods to pull an upset and emerge as one of the best Group of Five teams in the sport. Danger zone. I reserve the right to change my pick, but …
Prediction: Boise State 38, OSU 35
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