Oklahoma State’s offense keeps up dominant ways
Through the first two weeks of the season, it was apparent the nation’s most dangerous offense might belong to Oklahoma State. But against Tulsa and South Alabama, it was hard to make definitive diagnosis.
Some might quibble that Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly a formidable obstacle, either. But playing the Atlantic Coast Conference opponent on the road, the Cowboys didn’t even slow for a speed bump in a 59-21 victory.
Mason Rudolph threw for 497 yards and five touchdowns in 31⁄2 quarters. Four receivers had at least 100 yards – and that was without transfer speedster Tyron Johnson, who was serving a one-game suspension.
How good is Oklahoma State’s offense? See 2011, when the Cowboys probably should have played for the championship, and then upgrade the quarterback. No offense intended to Brandon Weeden, but Rudolph is better. When the best quarterbacks in college football are discussed, he’s been on the list. But late in the first quarter he showed another reason NFL scouts are drooling, escaping a rush, scrambling to his left and then firing a strike to Marcell Ateman, who avoided one defender and raced for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
It’s time to move Rudolph into the topmost tier — and that’s whether you’re talking about pro potential or Saturday afternoon explosiveness. It might be time to do the same with the No. 8ranked Cowboys. That touchdown built the lead to 21-0 less than 12 minutes into the game, which sent us fast-forwarding through the calendar.
More difficult challenges await, and soon. TCU visits Stillwater, Okla., next week. A trip to West Virginia in late October could be very interesting.
Oklahoma State’s offensive line might be an issue, and the defense remains a perennial program question until proven otherwise. But given how good this offense has been, it’s possible we’re headed toward a Nov. 4 Bedlam showdown with No. 3 Oklahoma — and perhaps a rematch a few weeks later in the Big 12 championship game — and that either or both matchups could have serious College Football Playoff implications.
Here are Saturday’s other winners and losers:
Memphis: A 48-45 win against UCLA ranks as the best in coach Mike Norvell’s short tenure. Riley Ferguson outdueled Josh Rosen, throwing for 398 yards and six touchdowns.
Florida: No one is going to confuse the Gators with a formidable bunch just yet. But if the first offensive touchdown of the season didn’t come until nearly 115 minutes in, it was at least a clutch moment. More clutch: After Tennessee tied it in the final minute, Feleipe Franks threw a Hail Mary to win it.
Texas A&M: Could have gone into the “Losers” category, too. Yes, the Aggies won 45-21. But at halftime, trailing Louisiana 21-14, Texas A&M’s journey to the locker room included some heckling from the home fans. In return, freshman receiver Will Gunnell shot back the universal No. 1 symbol with both hands – only he used that other fingers. Gunnell later tweeted an apology, saying it was “an ill-advised gesture in no way aimed at the fans.” Regardless, and even though Texas A&M pulled away in the second half to win 45-21, things are not good in Aggieland. At one point during the first half, A&M used an all-freshman offensive line, apparently in frustration or an attempt to send a message. Wisconsin: No, BYU turns out to not be very good. But the Badgers looked very good in dismantling the Cougars in Provo. While all the attention gets focused on the Big Ten East, Wisconsin just keeps winning.
TCU: Trailing 16-7 to SMU after one quarter, it was tempting to be concerned on a couple of levels. Was the win over Arkansas an anomaly? Or could the Horned Frogs have been flat after that victory? TCU got things together and downshifted into a fairly comfortable win, setting up a showdown of ranked Big 12 teams next week at Oklahoma State. Purdue: Not much was expected, at least immediately, from Jeff Brohm’s rebuilding effort. But with a convincing victory at Missouri, the Boilermakers are 2-1. Even the loss, to Louisville in the season opener, was encouraging; Purdue led 28-25 in the fourth quarter. Who knows what happens from here, but Purdue is no pushover.
Nebraska: The arrival of Tanner Lee, a transfer from Tulane, was supposed to provide the Huskers with a pop. Three games in, his addition hasn’t made a significant positive difference. Saturday, a home date with Northern Illinois went awry when Lee threw two firstquarter interceptions — one pick six, the other to set up a touchdown — that spotted NIU a 14-0
lead. Tennessee: The Vols traveled to Gainesville with a 2-0 record, sure, but anyone who had watched that overtime win in the opener against Georgia Tech knew the Vols had issues. And then, after somehow rallying from 10 points down against Florida to tie in the final minute in Gainesville, they didn’t get to overtime, victimized by a Hail Mary. It won’t be a good week for Butch Jones.
UCLA: Rosen was pretty good (though not perfect, he threw two interceptions, including a pick-six), but UCLA’s defense was pretty terrible. Memphis piled up 560 yards. And now all of the old questions about UCLA return.
Kansas: Despite the on-field results, there was offseason optimism David Beaty was gradually rebuilding Kansas’ football program, and that it would become at least competitive in the Big 12. Check that. After a 42-30 loss at Ohio, the Jayhawks are not competitive in the MAC (they’d lost to Central Michigan last week) – and under Beaty, they’re 3-24 and still have only one win against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Missouri: Year 2 under Barry Odom was supposed to be different, and so far it has been. But getting steamrolled at home by Purdue was not the kind of change anyone had in mind.
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph tries to elude Pittsburgh defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix.