PITT MAS­TER

OSU scores early, of­ten in 59-21 win over Pitt Ru­dolph lights up Pan­thers again with 5 TDs Cow­boys’ patch­work LB crew puts up a fight

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OSU POSTGAME - Berry Tramel btramel@ ok­la­homan.com

Ma­son Ru­dolph mim­ics Roeth­lis­berger on his home field

MPITTSBURGH — ason Ru­dolph is a big boy. Listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Ok­la­homa State team­mate Tre Flow­ers al­ways messes with Ru­dolph about his weight.

Likes to pop Ru­dolph about his stom­ach.

But a lit­tle ex­tra girth never hurt any­body. The Pitt Pan­thers got their hands on Ru­dolph a few times Satur­day. But it’s hard to bring a big man down.

“He’s a big guy,” Flow­ers said. “He can ex­tend plays. That’s what he’s good at.”

Mak­ing like the quar­ter­back who nor­mally rules Heinz Field, Ru­dolph’s strength re­pelled the ma­raud­ers who would do him hard, de­liv­er­ing a stun­ning ar­ray of big plays as ninth-ranked OSU routed Pitt 59-21.

The num­bers are other-worldly: 497 yards on 23 of 32 pass­ing, de­spite play­ing only one pos­ses­sion in the sec­ond half. Four com­ple­tions of at least 40 yards, all for touch­downs.

Ru­dolph was sacked just once, and even that was a big play for the Cow­boys. In the first quar­ter, the Pan­thers had Ru­dolph cor­ralled in the end zone for a safety. But Ru­dolph bulled his way past the goal line to the 1-yard line and went on to di­rect a 96-yard touch­down drive. In­stead of 7-2, it was 14-0 and the rout was on.

Mike Gundy says Ru­dolph’s com­mit­ment to quar­ter­back­ing is like Tom Brady’s or Pey­ton Man­ning’s. Stu­dious. Se­ri­ous.

Maybe so. But on a pris­tine Satur­day hard by the Al­legheny River, Ru­dolph looked more like Ben Roeth­lis­berger, who has be­come a Pitts­burgh Steeler icon by bounc­ing off de­fen­sive line­men.

That’s what Ru­dolph did Satur­day, and it’s a de­vel­op­ment in his game that makes the Cow­boy of­fense even more dom­i­nant.

Some Heis­man Tro­phy con­tenders play Pac-Man with de­fend­ers (Baker May­field). Some zip to in­cred­i­ble runs (La­mar Jack­son). But Ru­dolph stands tall and won’t go down.

“Whole bunch of ‘em out there that are mak­ing plays,” Gundy said. “I like our guy.

“He’s worked hard in the off­sea­son on a cou­ple of things – his foot­work on dif­fer­ent styles of throws, also his abil­ity to pro­tect the ball and move around in the pocket. He made some big plays to­day at cru­cial times, and you see the im­por­tance of hav­ing a quar­ter­back who makes plays. He made a lot of plays.”

The high­light came late first quar­ter. Pitt again had Ru­dolph in trou­ble. On a third-and-11 play, Ru­dolph stepped up in the pocket to avoid pres­sure and still found no open re­ceiver. So Ru­dolph went on the move.

Some­times, that’s not a great idea for a man of Ru­dolph’s size. But Ru­dolph spun free from de­fen­sive tackle Rashad Weaver’s grasp and stepped out of line­man Amir Watts’ dive.

Then Ru­dolph did what tough quar­ter­backs do. Rather than fling the ball on the run, he bravely squared his feet, which in­creased both the pos­si­bil­ity of a com­ple­tion and the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting ham­mered.

Sure enough, Ru­dolph got rocked, by Pitt end Allen Ed­wards, but not be­fore Ru­dolph flung a deep pass that Mar­cell Ate­man caught com­ing back to the play and turned into a 69-yard touch­down pass.

“Mak­ing that throw was some­thing I’ve worked on a lit­tle bit,” Ru­dolph said. “But I’ve al­ways been one to kind of get out of” trou­ble. “It’s whether you can re­ally make it count, once you get out of those tack­les.”

OSU has much more tal­ent than does re­build­ing Pitt. “That’s a top­five team for sure,” said ex­as­per­ated Pan­ther coach Pat Nar­duzzi.

But the big­gest among the many dif­fer­ences in th­ese teams is at quar­ter­back. No of­fense to Max Browne and Ben DiNucci, but the long, tall Cow­boy is sev­eral cuts above.

“He has more ma­neu­ver­abil­ity” now, Gundy said. “He’s worked hard, he’s de­vel­oped his up­per body strength. He’s play­ing good. Ma­son is a worka­holic. He prides him­self on be­ing the Pey­ton Man­ning, Tom Brady of col­lege foot­ball. And he backs it up. Most peo­ple that are that com­mit­ted and that skilled are go­ing to be that suc­cess­ful.”

And then you add the Big Ben-like abil­ity to bounce off de­fend­ers. OSU’s in­cred­i­ble of­fense is hard enough to stop. But it’s im­pos­si­ble to stop when Ru­dolph re­fuses to go down.

[AP PHOTO/KEITH SRAKOCIC]

Ok­la­homa State quar­ter­back Ma­son Ru­dolph had a record-set­ting day in the Cow­boys’ win at Pitts­burgh. He set the school record for con­sec­u­tive passes with­out an in­ter­cep­tion. He also led the Cow­boys’ of­fense to a record 516 first-half yards.

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