Underwhelming performance from OK State, Canadian RB Chuba Hubbard ‘doesn’t define us’

Photo courtesy: Peter Casey

Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard won’t allow his Oklahoma State Cowboys to be slighted after one underwhelming performance.

Hubbard rushed 27 times for 93 yards and the game-winning touchdown as OK State did just enough to avoid a major upset against the University of Tulsa in a 16-7 win. The Cowboys entered their season-opener ranked No. 11 in the NCAA.

“A lot of people are going to say what they say about us from this one game, but one game doesn’t define us, one game doesn’t define a team. We’ll be back and better next week,” Hubbard said post-game.

“We had some hiccups all-around the offence, hiccups from me, hiccups from everybody. We’ll get it put together, I’m not worried about that. It’s our first game, there’s going to be mistakes. We won, so I’m happy.”

It was a much different feeling compared to when the same two teams met last season. Hubbard ran 32 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns in a decisive 40-21 victory. He averaged eight yards per carry and ripped off a 75-yard TD run. The 22-year-old averaged 3.2 yards and managed a 20-yarder as his longest run on Saturday.

“I wasn’t frustrated, that’s just football, it’s going to be like that sometimes. Sometimes you gotta ground and pound, sometimes you’re going to have holes where you just shoot right through. It wasn’t a clean win, we have a lot of things to work on, but we won so that’s all that matters,” Hubbard said.

The Golden Hurricanes treated Hubbard very differently after the Heisman Trophy candidate ran for an NCAA-leading 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns on 328 carries in 2019. The rise to stardom put a target on Hubbard and everyone wants to stop the superstar in his tracks. That’s the challenge the six-foot, 208-pound speedster faces this year as he tries to boost his NFL draft stock.

“I’ve never really felt like I’ve had a weight on my shoulders. When I get on the football field I go to play football, off the field football is still my focus but I have a lot of other focuses too, but I don’t let that stuff weigh me down,” Hubbard said.

Offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn noted Tulsa was cheating in the box, especially to the strong side trying to take Hubbard’s lanes away. Hubbard did find room as the offence started to move the ball in the second half, especially late in the third quarter and through the fourth. Senior running back LD Brown helped pound away at the defensive front with nine carries for 61 yards, spelling the workhorse Hubbard.

“Chuba’s going to get tired. We’ve talked about this last year, talked about it in pre-season, it’s difficult to carry the ball 30 times a game like he did last year. So we gotta have other guys be able to go in there and rush the football,” head coach Mike Gundy said.

Gundy said the team has “a lot to work on” and needs to “minimize mistakes.” That includes Hubbard, who was involved in an awkward exchange with quarterback Spencer Sanders, leading to a lost fumble on the Cowboys’ second offensive series of the game. Hubbard’s impressive streak of 11 straight games recording 100 or more rushing yards came to an end.

“Offensive side of things, we just gotta fix a few things up,” Hubbard said. “It felt good, I haven’t played football since the bowl game, it’s been a long time. To break the rust off felt good. We just had to get things rolling.”

Oklahoma State plays its first Big 12 conference game of the season against West Virginia Saturday, September 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET. You can bet the Canadian Cowboy will run with a vengeance versus the Mountaineers.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.