By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Since Oklahoma State’s bowl victory over Purdue, all the attention around the OSU football program has been their next opponent — Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State.
“I think our guys are really excited for this opportunity, regardless of the opponent. Mississippi State is going to be a challenge because they’re a very good team,” OSU first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “They’re tough and they’re physical. We’re just excited to get out there and play somebody that’s not wearing orange.”
Senior offensive lineman Parker Graham added, “They’re an SEC team. They’re going to be big, they’re going to be athletic and they’re going to be pretty nasty. We have to make sure we bring our lunch pail to work.”
That’s the thing with this season opener for Oklahoma State. It isn’t necessarily the Bulldogs themselves, but the conference in which they come from. It’s been difficult the last few months to go without hearing about the SEC, more so than Mississippi State, heading into Saturday’s opener.
“You can never ever count the Big 12 out. The SEC has done a great job of winning national championships, but you can never count a Big 12 team out,” senior running back Jeremy Smith said. “We’re always competing, and again, it’s all about moving the ball for us.”
What this game will do is give Oklahoma State, and the Big 12 Conference, a chance to prove they can hang with what many experts claim is the best conference in the country. That’s the perfect amount of incentive for the Cowboy defense.
“We want to prove that our defense is dominant every Saturday, not just against an SEC opponent,” OSU linebacker Shaun Lewis said. “We just want to establish that no matter who we’re playing, whether it’s Savannah State like last year, or Mississippi State this year. We’re just excited to go out and prove next Saturday that we belong.”
As for the defense the Cowboys will be facing, they are giving plenty of respect to the Bulldogs. However, they have a gameplan to attack the bigger SEC defense.
“They have a great defense and a great defensive coordinator. We pretty much have to do what we know how to do, which is move the ball fast,” Smith said. “I think that if we can get them tired, then it will be a good game for us.”