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Cowboys to face 'OSU' in Friday night season opener

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Tylan Wallace catches the game-winning pass during Oklahoma State's football game vs. West Virginia on Nov. 17, 2018, in Stillwater, Oklahoma at Boone Pickens Stadium. (DEVIN LAWRENCE WILBER/O'Colly)

Two different OSUs will take the field in Corvallis, Oregon on Friday.

The Oklahoma State football team will open its 2019 campaign with a late-night Friday matchup against Oregon State. The Pokes start the season away from Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time since they almost took down defending national champion Florida State at AT&T Stadium in 2014.

Oregon State posted a 2-10 record in 2018 under first-year coach Jonathan Smith, who is a former quarterback now coaching at his alma mater just like Cowboy coach Mike Gundy. Smith brings back the returning PAC-12 Freshman of the Year in his starting running back Jermar Jefferson, who ran for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns on 239 carries in his debut season.

Gundy, who enters his fifteenth year at the helm of OSU football, has never faced the Beavers during his tenure, but he has expressed confidence in how his team matches up with what he expects their opponent's game plan to be focused on.

"It's like any other game, they would prefer to rush the football and use the clock," Gundy said. "Their history with their coaching staff has been that, if you would just look at where they've come from. The (running) back they have won Freshman of the Year and their offensive line seems to be veteran guys who were good players. It would make sense that they would rush the football."

While the focus of OSU fans this offseason has been on who will win the battle for the starting quarterback job between sixth-year senior Dru Brown and redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders, Gundy has stressed his comfort level with both signal callers running the offense.

Gundy, who refrained from naming a starter going into game week, has indicated throughout the offseason that a two-quarterback system is far from out of the question this season, both temporarily and permanently. OSU fans should probably expect both guys to see the field this weekend.

"We have a really good plan in place," Gundy said. "Both of them are getting better every day."

Whichever quarterback trots onto the field on Friday, he'll likely find comfort in having a first-team All-American wide receiver lining up on one side of the field.

Junior receiver Tylan Wallace was selected to the Associated Press preseason All-America team after finishing the past season with 1,491 yards, 12 touchdowns and 86 receptions. Wallace was one of three finalists for last year's Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's best wideout.

Wallace's numbers and production are easy to notice, and because of that, he'll likely see an influx of attention from opposing defenses this season.

But Wallace's impact on the offense will likely have much more to do than just the plays he makes. Wallace is well-known for how hard he pushes himself on the field, and for his maturity off the field. He stays out of trouble, he gets all of his classwork done early, and he torments the minds of opposing defensive coordinators with his combination of athleticism and a high football IQ.

When asked if Wallace's calm, mature demeanor has translated over from last season despite the new hype surrounding him, Gundy said his star receiver "... hadn't changed at all. He won't change. He'll be the same 10 years from now when he's still playing ..."

Wallace is quiet and he takes care of business in an admirable way. His maturity and mentorship should immensely help whichever quarterback ends up getting his first start in the orange and black on Friday.

"If there's any young people out there looking for a mentor, there's your mentor," Gundy said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com