Ru­dolph, Cow­boys crush Pitts­burgh


PITTS­BURGH — Ma­son Ru­dolph’s mes­sage to the rest of the Ok­la­homa State of­fense was sim­ple. Play­ing half a coun­try away from home against a Pitts­burgh team that took the Cow­boys to the wire a year ago, Ru­dolph didn’t want to leave any­thing to chance in the re­match.

“We wanted to come out and blow the top off this thing,” Ru­dolph said. Done. And then some. Ru­dolph gave his Heis­man Tro­phy cam­paign an eye-pop­ping kick start by throw­ing five touch­down passes dur­ing an im­mac­u­late first half to help No. 9 Ok­la­homa State rout the Pan­thers 59-21 on Satur­day.

The Cow­boys (3-0) reached the end zone on each of their first seven pos­ses­sions, pil­ing up 516 yards in the process, a school record for most yards in one half.

“I didn’t even pay at­ten­tion to it,” Ru­dolph said. “I knew we scored a lot.”

Ru­dolph fin­ished 23 of 32 for 497 yards be­fore be­ing pulled in the mid­dle of the third quar­ter with Ok­la­homa State up by 42. He did throw his first in­ter­cep­tion of the sea­son, ending a streak of 216 passes with­out a pick dat­ing to Novem­ber. He had 423 yards pass­ing in the first half to break his own school record.

“Ma­son is a worka­holic,” Cow­boys coach Mike Gundy said. “He prides him­self on be­ing the Pey­ton Man­ning, the Tom Brady of col­lege foot­ball. He prides him­self on it and he backs it up.”

Ru­dolph lit up Pitt for 540 yards pass­ing in a tense 45-38 vic­tory in Still­wa­ter last Septem­ber. A year later, the Pan­thers were no bet­ter at keep­ing Ru­dolph in check.

Jalen McCleskey caught seven passes for 162 yards and three touch­downs. James Washington added 124 yards re­ceiv­ing. Mar­cell Ate­man (109) and Dil­lon Stoner (100) also reached the 100-yard re­ceiv­ing mark, the first time in 12 years a team has had four 100-yard re­ceivers in a game. The Cow­boys did it de­spite miss­ing LSU trans­fer Ty­ron John­son, sus­pended for the game for a vi­o­la­tion of team rules.

As they did last sea­son, Pitt played a sig­nif­i­cant amount of man cov­er­age, though they did oc­ca­sion­ally bring an­other body to keep tabs on Washington, who had 296 yards re­ceiv­ing last sea­son. All it did was cre­ate matchup is­sues in other places.

“Pretty much ev­ery­thing we wanted was open ... es­pe­cially Jalen,” Ru­dolph said. “He just had the mid­dle of the field on lock down.”


Ok­la­homa State’s Ma­son Ru­dolph, right, threw for 497 yards against Pitts­burgh on Satur­day.

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