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Spencer Sanders

Spencer Sanders: Heisman Hopeful or Flash In The Pan?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 2, 2022
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Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders was electric on Thursday night as the Cowboys defeated Central Michigan 58-44 in a high-scoring affair. Sanders completed 28-of-41 passing attempts for a career-high 406 yards, four touchdown passes, and zero interceptions. Sanders also gained 57 rushing yards via 11 scrambles and accounted for another two touchdowns, bringing his game-day TD total to six on what was undeniably a standout showing for the Denton, Texas native. Sanders had a literal handful of touchdowns before halftime.

If Sanders can continue stringing together such performances, it may be the start of a dark horse Heisman run.

It’s worth noting the Cowboys were heavy favorites against Central Michigan. Sanders’ form was eye-popping, but it did occur against an overmatched opponent from the MAC. The Chippewas allowed 25.6 points per contest throughout the 2021 campaign, including 49 and 34 against LSU and Missouri respectively, who qualified as their toughest opponents last season.

For those questioning the level of his opponent, Sanders’ schedule gets considerably tougher shortly. Contests against Baylor, TCU, and Texas highlight a difficult October. Baylor especially qualifies as a must-watch contest after their defense embarrassed Sanders on two occasions last season. The Cowboys will travel to Oklahoma in November a week before West Virginia visits Boone Pickens Stadium. The latest iteration of The Bedlam Series looms large for Sanders’ overall evaluation. The atmosphere in Norman will be tantalizing and it’s worth analyzing how Sanders handles the pressure. Sanders will receive plenty of opportunities to prove that Thursday’s performance was a sign of things to come, notably against stronger opponents.

Sanders is aiming to build upon an inconsistent showing last season. The dual-threat quarterback threw for a career-high 2,839 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Sanders rushed for an additional 668 yards and scored six touchdowns via the ground game. Sanders wrapped up his junior campaign with a legendary performance against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl in a thrilling 37-35 victory. His efforts led to him being named the All-Big-12 quarterback as chosen by conference coaches.

Sanders showcased excellent chemistry with a pair of receivers in Braydon Johnson and Brennan Presley on Thursday. They combined for 11 receptions, 216 yards, and a touchdown. Johnson is a fifth-year senior who returned to the program following an undisclosed injury that limited him to just one appearance in 2021. 

A healthy and motivated Johnson could prove fruitful for Sanders in 2022. The undersized Presley (5-foot-8) enjoyed a breakout campaign last year (50-619-5) and appears poised to take another step forward this season. He’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. Sanders is growing alongside the weapons at his disposal.

The No. 12-ranked Cowboys possess legitimate aspirations this season. Sanders’ veteran presence is crucial to their chances of achieving the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves. Sanders was excellent on Thursday. Spencer Sanders may have kickstarted a Heisman-worthy campaign against the Chippewas, but a few more similar performances against higher-quality opponents would go a long way toward confirming the initial evaluation.

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Justin Melo