No. 12 Oklahoma State opens with Central Michigan

Central Michigan (0-0) at No. 12 Oklahoma State (0-0), 7 p.m. ET Thursday (Fox Sports 1).

Line: Oklahoma State by 22½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Tied 1-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Oklahoma State reached the Big 12 championship game last season and beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys believe they can accomplish at least that much this season, with veteran quarterback Spencer Sanders leading the way. But they can’t afford to slip early, and coach Mike Gundy remembers an upset loss to Central Michigan in 2016 that provided an unexpected blemish on a 10-3 season.

KEY MATCHUP

Oklahoma State defensive line vs. Central Michigan QB Daniel Richardson. Oklahoma State led the nation in sacks per game last season, and defensive ends Collin Oliver and Brock Martin — both second-team All-Big 12 selections last season — are back. Richardson passed for 2,633 yards and 24 touchdowns last season and led the Chippewas to a Sun Bowl win over Washington State.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Central Michigan: RB Lew Nichols III. He led the nation with 1,848 yards rushing last season and was the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He’s a bruiser at 222 pounds — an old-school workhorse who carried 341 times last season.

Oklahoma State: QB Spencer Sanders. He led the Big 12 in total offense and total offense per game last season and is one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history. He was Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP last season and Cheez-It Bowl MVP in 2020.

FACTS & FIGURES

Gundy seeks his 150th career win. He is 15-2 in season openers. … Oklahoma State defensive end Trace Ford is back after missing last season with a torn ACL. … Central Michigan closed last season with five straight wins. … QB Gunnar Gundy — Mike Gundy’s son — is tied for No. 2 on the depth chart. Mike Gundy played QB for Oklahoma State in the 1980s. … Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain was hospitalized after suffering a seizure in July, but he has since recovered.

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