Oklahoma State and Tulsa recently announced that they’ve agreed to a (relatively) long-term extension of their recently renewed rivalry. The series will alternate home-and-home for eight seasons, running from 2024 through 2031.
Normally I give a quick brush off to any announced scheduling that is 5+ years in the future, because that’s plenty of time for a matchup to magically di$appear, but you’re not going to have such an easy time with such a large agreement, so I will honor this one with some thoughts about it.
The first thought I had was that it sets a nice precedent for similar scenarios of P5/G5 schools that have relatively close proximity.
Some of them, like San Jose State and Cal, are schools that used to play quite regularly and just haven’t played in some time, while others (Troy and Auburn or Alabama and UAB) have never met despite their nearness to each other.
I’ll return to the former of those two categories, and specifically other rivalries I’d like to see resumed like this one, in another article. But they could pick up a thing or two from this pairing that benefits both programs.
Oklahoma State would need to have a down year at the same time as Tulsa has an up year in order to not be favored in this matchup, regardless of whether the game is played in Stillwater or Tulsa.
This means either a home win or a non-conference road win with the shortest possible travel, and the players get an opportunity to hang out in Tulsa, which is a bigger city.
Tulsa gets to host a Power Five opponent that they know they’re nearly guaranteed to sell out – the last two times Oklahoma State travelled to Tulsa the Golden Hurricane saw a 40,385 sellout in 2000 (that was before Skelly was downsized) and a crowd of 24,563 in 2011 (82% capacity for the current stadium).
Speaking of which, let’s just take a minute to revisit that 2011 game now that the Cowboys will be returning to Tulsa this season for the first time since that game.
Thanks to a nasty rainstorm in the area, the opening kickoff of this game was at 12:16 AM local time on Sunday.
I know it’s not easy to see in that video footage, but kudos to the crowd that waited out that rain delay. They are some true fans to wait out a three-hour rain delay to watch this massacre.
It actually started out well for Tulsa.
Oklahoma State got the ball first and got into Tulsa territory before Brandon Weeden took a shot to the end zone that got intercepted. GJ Kinne turned around and drove the Golden Hurricane all the way to the Oklahoma State eight-yard line before the offense stalled out and settled for a field goal.
Then Justin Gilbert returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
Then GJ Kinne injured his knee, and Bill Blankenship had to insert freshman Kalen Henderson in at quarterback.
That was all she wrote, as a raw freshman playing a Big 12 defense went about as you would expect. Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts eventually racked 332 yards rushing, but by the time Tulsa scored their first touchdown, they still trailed 45-12.
Maybe some repeat magic this year?
Anyways, back to the rivalry itself.
It’s good for Oklahoma State to pad themselves with a likely winnable game that requires little or no travel for both themselves and their fans, and they also benefit their in-state counterpart Tulsa with four home games that are a lock to sell out and maybe a chance at a sneaky upset if everything goes right.
I’m happy not only that this rivalry was renewed two years ago, but that it will now be extended for the foreseeable future because this is a rivalry with plenty of interesting history beyond that wild matchup the last time these teams met in Tulsa.
These two teams have met 74 times in the past, and while it’s been mostly Pokes in the last few decades, it wasn’t always that way.
When Oklahoma State beat Tulsa 17-`14 in Stillwater in 1965, it was the 10th win in their past 12 meetings for the Cowboys, but they only led the all-time series 23-22-5.
That’s right, this rivalry used to be heavily tilted in favor of the Hurricane. In fact, Tulsa has lost their last two home games in this series but are still 23-14-2 at home against Oklahoma State.
This all, of course, took place prior to Tulsa moving up (relatively) to the AAC, and maybe now with the coach and talent they have, they can take a run at the Cowboys? Sure the 2017 blowout in Stillwater was rough, but what was a Tulsa squad, in their first game after losing Dane Evans, Keevan Lucas, and James Flanders, going to do?
I’m ooking forward to the continuation of this rivalry, and other G5/P5 matchups would do well to agree to similarly long extensions.