By: Ryan Token
It is officially game day for Tulsa football as I'm posting this (09/19/2020, 12:01am), and friends, I could not be more excited.
This is not a game preview or a prediction post. For that, listen to our OSU Preview podcast episode featuring Phillip Slavin. This post is more of a look back at the hurdles that Tulsa's football team has surmounted since March, along with a tiny look forward to today's game.
It has been far too long since we last saw live Tulsa sports. This year's September 19th opener is the latest season opening date for Tulsa football since the 1969 season. Fifty-one years ago!
Fifty-one years is a long time. Let me lay down some quick 1969 facts for ya:
For Tulsa, the 1969 football season opened on September 20th against Colorado.
Hopefully that season isn't a foreshadowing of things to come, because TU went a whopping 1-9 that year and lost those nine games by an average of twenty-three points. Hard pass on that kind of season for 2020. We did beat Cincinnati though, which is nice.
The University of Tulsa has had to overcome several major obstacles in order to make this season opener actually happen.
First, like most universities, TU canceled all spring practices and the annual spring game. It's worth noting that Coastal Carolina was one of two FBS programs who completed spring practices. The Chanticleers whooped up on Kansas last week 38-23, and they annihilated the Campbell Fighting Camels by twenty-two on Friday night. The point is this: spring practices make a difference, and Tulsa had to go without them.
(the other FBS program who completed spring practices was UConn, but, well, you know)
Next, two of the first three games of our season were canceled. The Toledo game, which should have been our season and home opener on September 5th, was canceled due to the MAC opting to not play football this fall. Five days later, week three FCS opponent Northwestern State canceled their season due to the Southland Conference doing the same. Those were both scheduled to be home games, which leaves Tulsa without a home game until October 17th.
Third, we weathered the storm that comes with a COVID-19 outbreak. Tulsa didn't practice for nine days after eight players on the team tested positive for the virus and were then quarantined along with others they were in contact with.
And finally, the season opener that still remained – at Oklahoma State on September 12th – was postponed just five days before that game was supposed to be played. This was TU's choice, and Mike Holder and Oklahoma State were gracious enough to oblige.
Fortunately, Oklahoma State has dealt with three of these four issues as well. Their spring practices were canceled, just like Tulsa's were. Their games against their season opening opponent (Oregon State) and week three FCS opponent (Western Illinois) were canceled, just like Tulsa's were. Additionally, they kindly agreed to our postponement request and had the September 12th game pushed back to the 19th.
The lone difference, and it is a significant one, is that OSU did not miss nine days of practice due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Those nine extra days, especially in a season like this, are crucial. Those nine days can knock off more rust, make up for a lot of the lost time from canceling spring, and get the entire team to gel together even more closely. The Cowboys will likely have one of the best offenses in college football this year, and we did them a favor by ceding nine extra days of practice time to them.
That said, it does feel like the Golden Hurricane is ready to come out firing. We did get to make up some of that lost time thanks to OSU's understanding of our situation and postponing the game. We do return 100% of our rushing, passing, and total offense yards from last season's breakout offense. We know we can play with the Cowboys after tasting blood and leading them at halftime in last year's matchup. And Montgomery knows that this is the kind of game that can set a team up for a special season.
Both teams are ready, both teams are excited, and barring any literal day-of changes, both teams will play at least one football game in 2020.
So now here we are. September 19th. TU game day once again.
Enough talk, let's reign.