OSU opens the college football season against Mississippi State. The Cowboys opened the 2012 season against Savannah State.
A couple of Old South-sounding names. And that’s where the similarities end.
Mississippi State, while not a powerhouse, is a solid program from the Southeastern Conference. Savannah State was non-competitive on all levels.
OSU beat Savannah State 84-0, and it could have been worse. The score was 49-0 at halftime and 70-0 with 71/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Mike Gundy’s mercy the rest of the way could have earned him some humanitarian award nominations, if not for the unpleasant fact that Gundy endorsed the scheduling of the game in the first place.
This kind of opener is much better. The Cowboys have talked about how much practices are better, knowing the first opponent can fight back. Our man John Helsley had a story in the Tuesday Oklahoman, talking about that very thing. You can read that here.
“The players know what they’re into by watching tape,” Gundy said. “Last year, we never tried to convince them anything other than what was up. Play at our highest level. This year, we have the advantage of playing a good football team. They can watch the tape and make those decisions on their own.”
The absurdity of the OSU-Savannah State matchup has not dimmed, a year later. After the score reached 70-0, the Cowboys resorted to their third-team quarterback. Fellow by the name of Clint Chelf. Uh-oh.
Chelf, throwing to people like Brandon Shepard and Cameron Gravelle, completed all three of his passes on a 68-yard TD drive. Can’t blame Gundy or Todd Monken for throwing. The drive started with a four-yard loss by tailback Caleb Muncrief. On 2nd-and-14, OSU ran – and Corey Bennett gained 10 yards. On third down, Bennett gained 12 yards.
What was OSU supposed to do? On the final TD drive, Chelf didn’t get to throw – Bennett carried nine times and Chelf once, on a 10-play drive.
Bennett, a walkon from Choctaw, carried 12 times in the game for 91 yards. He finished the season with those 91 yards.
Savannah State the next week went to Florida State – the Seminoles schedule Savannah State out of necessity; West Virginia bailed late on a game – and lost 55-0, in a game called because of weather with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
Savannah State went on to finish 1-10, beating Edward Waters College 42-35. Edward Waters is an NAIA school located in Jacksonville.
In the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Savannah State lost to North Carolina Central 45-33, Howard 56-9, Morgan State 45-6, Florida A&M 44-3, Hampton 21-13, Norfolk State 33-21, Bethune-Cookman 49-7 and South Carolina State 27-13.
So the Tigers seemed to improve a little as the season wore on. They open the 2013 season at Georgia Southern and at Troy, then host Fort Valley State. On Sept. 21, Savannah State plays at the University of Miami.
Get your tickets now.