Thursday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
OKLAHOMA STATE (BIG 12 CONFERENCE)
► Heading into last year, Oklahoma State was the youngest team in the FBS – both in terms of most freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep, and also in terms of lowest percentage of returning lettermen from the previous season.
► Head coach Mike Gundy is in his 11th year with the program (84-44). His team is coming off a 7-6 season in which they started with a 5-1 mark before dropping five straight. The Cowboys were 4-5 in conference play and defeated Washington 30-22 in the Cactus Bowl.
► OSU returns 46 lettermen and 16 starters (8 offense / 8 defense), along with 37 letterwinners.
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► Nine of the Cowboys’ top receivers return for 2015. David Glidden led in receptions (42, 598 yds, 2 Tds). Brandon Sheperd caught 39 balls for a team-high 737 yards with five scores. Then freshman James Washington led OSU with six TDs out of his 27 receptions for 451 yards. Among the new faces, freshman Keenen Brown had an impressive spring.
► Victor Salako (6-6, 330) transferred to OSU after UAB dissolved its football program. He was a two-year starter on the UAB offensive line. Corner Michael Hunter was a two-year starter at Indiana before joining the cowboys for a grad year.
► Junior Chris Carson was ranked as the No. 4 junior college running back in the nation last year, when he averaged 7.2 ypc and scored nine TDs at Cutler CC in Kansas. He is expected to be a notable addition for the OSU running attack, which had some
► Big 12 Defensive lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah, along with linebackers Ryan Simmons, cornerback Kevin Peterson and safety Jordan Sterns are part of a speedy defense.
► OSU ranks second in the country in non-offensive TDs (30) since 2010.
► The Chippewas are 10-2 on Thursday night home games. In their last Thursday night opener, they fell to Boston College, 31-24.
► The is the first outing for Central Michigan under new head coach John Bonamego. The former Chippewa player was diagnosed with tonsil cancer after accepting the CMU job. He finished seven weeks of radiation (Monday through Friday) on Aug. 21. He missed one half day of practice, heading to treatment (2 ½ hours away at 4:30 a.m. and returned to Mount Pleasant around 10 a.m. each day.
► Quarterback Cooper Rush is coming off a spectacular performance -- albeit last December. He completed 28-of-45 throws for a CMU record 493 yards and seven touchdowns in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 24, 2014). That capped a year in which the sophomore took a big step forward. After completing 56.7 percent of his passes as a freshman, he was good on 63.6 percent in 2014.
► “We’re excited about it. What better way to open a college football season than Thursday night at home against an opponent like that,” Rush said of Thursday’s tilt against Oklahoma State.
► Standout receiver Titus Davis (First Team All-MAC) is gone, so the Chippewas will look to other targets. “We’ve got … good receivers coming back. … My job is getting them the ball,” Rush said. Among the returnees is wide receiver Jesse Kroll. He had 36 receptions last year, with 31 earning a first down or touchdown. Anthony Rice had 36 receptions for 582 yards and four TDs.
► The Chippewas are replacing former highly productive running back Thomas Rawls (Second Team All-MAC). He carried 210 times for 1,103 yards in 2014. Devon Spalding and Saylor Lavellii return after combining for 669 yards and eight TDs.
► Central Michigan was first among MAC teams in total defense (319.9 ypg) and second in scoring defense (22.6 ppg) in 2014. The Chippewas were particularly good against the run, finishing first (97.8 ypg), but were also a healthy third in pass defense (221.1 ypg).
► CMU allowed only one 100-yard or better rusher in 2014 (Adonis Ameen-Moore of Sysracuse, 106).
► This is the first meeting between the two schools.
► The Chips are 4-4 in openers as Central Michigan coaches.
► In the last 20 years, CMU has hosted four current Power 5 opponents and is still looking for its first victory against a member of those groups.