After Chuba Hubbard meets fellow Canadian Neville Gallimore on the field, he's going to make sure they meet off of it too.
Hubbard's Oklahoma State Cowboys play Gallimore's Oklahoma Sooners in the Bedlam Series on Saturday, the two teams' annual rivalry game. Hubbard, a sophomore, is a few years younger than Gallimore, a senior who redshirted his first year, and saw him as a role model while he was growing up in Edmonton.
"It makes the rivalry that much better," Hubbard said on Tuesday. "Neville's a great player. I've been watching him since high school where he was an Under Armour All-American, the first Canadian.
"He's been doing great things for Canada since Day 1. Just to be able to go up against him will be fun. It's just amazing to see Canadians doing great things."
They'll have to tangle on practically every offensive snap for Oklahoma State. Hubbard has turned heads as the Cowboys' star running back, rolling up 1,832 yards and 20 touchdowns on 285 attempts so far this season. Gallimore is a key part of Oklahoma's defensive line, getting 23 tackles, three sacks and forcing two fumbles this year.
Regardless of the game's outcome, Hubbard plans to introduce himself to Gallimore.
"I'll catch up with him after the game, I'm sure we talk," said Hubbard.
Gallimore, who is from Ottawa and played his high school football in Welland, Ont., is pleased to be lining up against another Canadian.
"(He's) another Canadian who has a dream of trying to play ball at the highest level. There's a lot of value in that," said Gallimore. "It's always love seeing a guy coming from the same country so he can understand the adversity you have to go through."
The rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is fiercely contested in many sports including wrestling and basketball, but football is particularly heated. The Sooners won the first Bedlam Series football on Nov. 6, 1904 in a 75-0 rout over what was then called Oklahoma A&M.
Oklahoma has dominated the series since then, amassing an 88-18-7 record over the next 115 years, including wins in the last four Bedlam games.
Hubbard's emergence as one of the best running backs in NCAA football could change all of that, however.
On Monday, Hubbard was named a finalist for this year's Doak Walker Award, which honours the top running back in college football in the United States. Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor are the other two finalists.
That nomination also has some speculating that Hubbard could be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding player in NCAA football every year.
"It's a blessing. It's crazy how fast life can change," said Hubbard. "Like I've always said, I'm really just focused on winning and not the awards. It's great to be mentioned but it's really just a testament to my O-line and the people around me."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2019.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press