Oregon State is projected to finish last in the Pac-12 North, even with many returning players in their roster while Oklahoma State went just 7-6 last year and they’ve made significant changes to their team.
Oklahoma State was a force in the Big 12, with head coach Mike Gundy leading them to six seasons with double-digit wins, including three 10-win seasons between 2015 and 2017 but the program took a step back last year, going 7-6. They did beat Missouri 38-33 in the Liberty Bowl on December 31.
Last year’s starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius is now in the NFL and Hawaii transfer Dru Brown or redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders will take over under center. Brown or Sanders will have a dangerous weapon in Tylan Wallace, one of the best wide receivers in the nation. Wallace caught 86 passes for 1,491 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games.
Running back Chuba Hubbard can be a difference-maker in this game, the Oklahoma State offensive line returns four of five starters from last year and Hubbard could thrive against a poor Oregon State run defense that surrendered 281.8 yards in 2018.
Oregon State has really struggled since head coach Mike Riley left in 2014 and their last winning season was in 2013 when they went 7-6 and won the Hawaii Bowl 28-23 against Boise State. The Beavers are just a combined 3-21 in the last two seasons, including 2-10 last year and this will be Jonathan Smith’s first season as their head coach.
Running back Jermar Jefferson was a breakout star as a freshman last year, rushing for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns on 239 carries in 12 games. The Oregon State wideouts, led by Isaiah Hodgins and Trevon Bradford and tight end Noah Togiai will make or break the team’s chances to be competitive on Friday night.
Quarterback Jake Luton, who threw for 1,660 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions in eight games last year, has to throw the ball downfield and keep Oregon State moving, they can’t rely just on Jefferson and the ground game.
Oklahoma State has six new starters in the front seven but they still have Tylan Wallace and a consistent offense. Oregon State also has talented pieces on that side of the ball but is hard to see them keep up with Oklahoma State. That said, their -9 turnover margin last year concerns me and those ball control issues make me lean towards taking the home team catching 14 points at home.