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.