Col­lege foot­ball

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Wright swright@ ok­la­homan.com

OU and OSU roll over their non-con­fer­ence op­po­nents on Satur­day.

PITTS­BURGH — Ty­ron John­son was left at home for dis­ci­plinary rea­sons. Chris Lacy went out with an in­jury on the sec­ond se­ries of the game. James Washington was held with­out a catch un­til the sec­ond quar­ter.

What, ex­actly, was the Ok­la­homa State of­fense go­ing to do with its vaunted group of re­ceivers fac­ing such ad­ver­sity?

Run wild. Set records. Score touch­downs on its first seven pos­ses­sions and dom­i­nate even more than some might’ve ex­pected had the Cow­boys been at full strength.

Well be­fore ninthranked OSU’s 59-21 blitz­ing of Pitts­burgh was com­plete, the Cow­boys had four re­ceivers with more than 100 re­ceiv­ing yards — even Washington, who Pitt seemed de­ter­mined to limit, if not elim­i­nate, from the Cow­boys’ game­plan.

Pitt didn’t de­vi­ate sig­nif­i­cantly from its usual de­fen­sive scheme, but reg­u­larly had a safety drift­ing over to pro­vide ad­di­tional coverage on Washington.

For that, Jalen McCleskey should send the Pan­thers a thank you card.

The ju­nior slot re­ceiver — who led the Cow­boys in re­cep­tions a year ago — came into the game with five catches for 17 yards, search­ing to get back in rhythm with quar­ter­back Ma­son Ru­dolph.

By half­time on Satur­day, McCleskey had 162 yards and three touch­downs on seven catches. Washington had five grabs for 124 yards, all in OSU’s 28-point sec­ond quar­ter. Mar­cell Ate­man caught four for 109 and Dil­lon Stoner had five for 100, each scor­ing once. Ru­dolph threw for 497 yards and five scores.

“Go­ing into each week, you have to fig­ure that

teams are maybe go­ing to do some­thing to stop James, be­cause he’s such a great player,” McCleskey said. “Me, Mar­cell, Chris, Dil­lon, we’ve got to know if they’re gonna do that, we’re gonna be the ones to have to make the plays.

“To­day, they just left the mid­dle open, and I was able to make plays.”

Each week, OSU will see some­thing new from op­pos­ing de­fenses. An al­tered sec­ondary scheme, new blitzes, dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions.

“When you’ve got James Washington on one side, you al­ways go through the what-if,” Ru­dolph said, list­ing off the po­ten­tial de­fenses an op­po­nent might show. “It’s hard to change who you are in one week. Teams do what they do be­cause they’re good at it.

“That’s what Pitt did, and we made them pay in some sit­u­a­tions.”

Washington is the star of the re­ceiver show. A pre­sea­son All-Amer­i­can and po­ten­tial first-round NFL Draft pick. Yet OSU led 28-0 be­fore he ever touched the ball.

“It’s not just me, it’s all of the re­ceivers,” Washington said. “That was a great ex­am­ple of what I’m talk­ing about to­day. You dou­ble one guy, we have four other guys we can hit at any time.”

The phrase “pick your poi­son” comes up a lot in con­ver­sa­tions about the OSU re­ceivers. And it might be just that: pick who­ever you want to stop, and watch the oth­ers shred you.

“We’ve got a lot of schemes de­signed for slot guys, or out­side guys,” Ru­dolph said. “Ev­ery­one re­ally clicked to­day. They all did their job. If we keep do­ing that, it’s go­ing to take us far.”

[AP PHOTO/KEITH SRAKOCIC]

OSU re­ceivers Mar­cell Ate­man, left, and Jalen McCleskey cel­e­brate one of the Cow­boys’ seven first-half touch­downs.

OSU FOOT­BALL

[AP PHOTO/KEITH SRAKOCIC]

Ok­la­homa State wide re­ceiver Dil­lon Stoner breaks away from Pitts­burgh de­fen­sive back Den­nis Briggs on his way to a first-quar­ter touch­down on Satur­day.

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