Spencer Sanders

Twin it to win it: The transfers OSU fans will miss the most

Twin it to win it: The transfers OSU fans will miss the most

Sellout Crowd beat writing twins Sam and Ben Hutchens hash out their differences on Cowboy football questions.

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Aug 30, 2023, 8:41pm CDT

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Aug 30, 2023, 8:41pm CDT

Roommates live in an environment containing all the necessary ingredients for a lively conversation. There’s just something about a shared couch, a game on the TV, unfiltered comments and the communal responsibility of cleaning a bathroom that allows for a no-holds-barred sports discussion like no other.

But what about roommates who go back, well, as far as back as people can go in life?

Ben Hutchens and I are twins who have had sports debates their whole lives. In this column, we will find talking points on the OSU beat that they disagree on and hash them out.

Spencer Sanders will be the transfer OSU fans miss most in 2023

Sam: I’ll set the scene. It’s a cold, blustery November night in Boone Pickens Stadium and the Cowboys are facing third-and-goal from the 6-yard line. The run game has been stagnant and the Sooners are showing blitz.

In past years, OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn could dial up a QB draw or, at minimum, a play that gets OSU’s quarterback out of the pocket. Without Sanders, who transferred to Ole Miss, OSU is facing an inevitable drop in passer mobility and broken-play magic.

 Senior Alan Bowman, or someone else, may fill in admirably and commit less turnovers but I am anticipating a few times this year where OSU fans grumble “Sanders would’ve picked that up” as the Cowboy punting unit takes the field.

Ben: Thanks for bringing up third down. The Cowboys ultimate third down guy last year was receiver John Paul Richardson. How many times did he come up with a crucial catch over the middle, holding onto a pass in spite of a big hit? He’s the player OSU fans will miss the most. 

Though you’re right in saying Sanders’ rushing ability is irreplaceable, a decent portion of the OSU fan base felt it was time for Sanders to move on. He had proven just about everything he had to prove in Stillwater. But reading that Richardson was joining TCU? I think that surprised a lot of folks who had him penciled in for a big role this season.

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham is tied with OSU’s Mike Gundy for the longest current tenure at the same school. Their teams could soon meet for larger stakes in the reconstituted Big 12 Conference. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/File)

Utah is the new Big 12 school most likely to be OSU’s rival 

Ben: Utah and OSU could easily emerge as the conference’s top two football programs. Big, primetime, football games with lots of implications can turn minor squabbles into major beef. Plus, coaches Mike Gundy and Kyle Wittingham are two of the nation’s three longest tenured coaches, both at 19 years. Which coach can outlast the other?

Sam: Colorado is the best rivalry candidate among the Big 12 newcomers. The Buffaloes go back to the Big Eight days and have an established history with OSU. And it makes sense geographically. Unlike Utah, Oklahoma borders Colorado (thanks, panhandle) and being reasonably close is a bonus as the Big 12 sprawls across North America. 

I’m not sure how the Coach Prime era will play out in Boulder, but there should be enough sizzle with the CU team that will soon join the Big 12 to make for some exciting games in 2024 and beyond. 

Ben: Don’t sleep on softball here. The Cowgirls will need a new challenger after Oklahoma and Texas leave. Utah made the WCWS last season out of nowhere last season, going 42-16, and could be the team to make life hard for the Cowgirls. Utah’s season ended last year in Oklahoma City in an 8-0 loss to OSU. I bet they want that taste out of their mouths.

Sam: The true rivalry potential between CU and OSU stems from the fact that CU left the Big 12 for greener pastures in 2010.  Regardless of how understandable that move was at the time — and OSU’s reported interest in the Pac-12 on a couple occasions — realignment played out and Colorado was left needing the Big 12 to keep its athletic future intact. 

Oklahoma State’s Nov 11 trip to Orlando, home of the UCF Knights, their marching band and the Bounce House, could be one of the tougher games on the Cowboys’ schedule. (Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports)

UCF is the most dangerous game on OSU’s schedule

Ben: The word dangerous kind of disqualifies Bedlam, because although the Cowboys might get beat, they’ll be ready for it. That’s why I think the most dangerous game on the schedule is the week after the last Bedlam, a trip to UCF. 

Though nobody is doubting the Knights’ legitimacy anymore, back-to-back nine-win seasons further establish that, the game (and 1,300 mile road trip to Orlando) come at a bad time for the Cowboys. It would be natural to come out sluggish after what will be one of the most bitter Bedlams of all time.

Veteran head coach Gus Malzahn and returning starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee aren’t pushovers. UCF has been ready to play Big 12 football since the day its move was announced. 45,000 UCF fans will make the atmosphere in “The Bounce House” a nightmare.

Sam: Just because casual football fans might not be able to name South Alabama’s mascot doesn’t mean the Jaguars aren’t an under-the-radar threat in Week Three. Heck, under-the-radar might not even be fair to South Alabama. The Jaguars received one vote in the AP preseason poll. That’s one more than OSU got.

The Cowboys will likely be the betting favorite considering the teams play in Stillwater, but here’s why South Alabama could win. The Jaguars return 18 starters from a 10-3 season that ended with their first bowl game in six seasons. They’re getting back two players who missed large chunks of time last year in linebacker Quentin Wilfawn and safety Keith Gallmon.

Returning quarterback Carter Bradley threw for 3,343 yards and 28 touchdowns. If he settles into the game and quiets the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd, look for the Cowboys to be in a tight game down the stretch.

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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