The Oklahoma State Cowboys have officially entered serious College Football Playoff discussions after a dominant performance in which they blew the doors off the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. The Cowboys had been the sexy, dark horse pick by the national pundits up to this point, but fans and pundits alike were waiting for this game to see how this team would play in its first true test. Well, the Cowboys made quick work of their ACC foe as this game was essentially over early in the second quarter.
Pitt made defensive adjustments from last year’s game to try to limit James Washington, but this left McCleskey, Ateman and Stoner in mismatches as all four wide receivers finished the day with over 100 yards receiving. The Cowboys also got the running game back on track with Justice Hill scoring two touchdowns and average 8.3 yards per rush. It was essentially pick your poison for Pitt in a game in which they clearly did not have the horses to compete. OSU scored touchdowns on all seven of their first half possessions and pulled the offensive starters after one second half possession on their way to their 59-21 blowout victory.
OSU received the opening kickoff and opened the offensive onslaught with a Justice Hill 20-yard touchdown run made possible by a terrific block by cowboy back Britton Abbott. This game could have gone very differently early in the first quarter. Jalen McCleskey lost the punt in the sun on Pitt’s ensuing possession, and the Panthers were able to down the ball on the OSU 4-yard line. Rudolph dropped back to pass and was nearly sacked for a safety, but he was smartly able to dive forward to get the ball out of the end zone. The Cowboys would go on to score their second touchdown of the day. OSU absolutely demoralized Pitt in the first quarter as the Cowboys scored on touchdown drives of 75, 96 and 80 yards.
The game was already at 35-0 early in the second quarter when Pitt replaced their starting quarterback Max Browne with dual-threat option Ben Dinucci. He provided an instant spark as the Panthers scored their first touchdown of the day on the heels of bubble pass to Quadree Henderson that went for 74 yards. However, the Cowboys answered with two more touchdowns before the end of the half. Rudolph and company came back out for the first possession of the second half, and it was business as usual as they quickly moved from inside the OSU 1-yard line to the Pitt 25. Th day ended on a sour note for Rudolph as he was intercepted for the first time this season, breaking his streak of 216 consecutive pass attempts without and interception. Gundy pulled the offensive starters after this one, and once again the reserves were basically given an entire half of playing time.
|3rd Down Eff||10-14||5-15|
|4th Down Eff||0-1||1-2|
|Yards Per Pass||15.5||8.2|
|Yards Per Rush||3.0||3.0|
|OSU – M. Rudolph||23/32||497||15.5||5||1||97.9|
|PITT – B. Dinucci||13/25||228||9.1||1||2||51.4|
|OSU – J. Hill||11||91||8.3||2||20|
|PITT – C. Moss||12||36||3.0||1||7|
|OSU – J. McCleskey||7||162||23.1||3||48|
|PITT – R. Araujo-Lopez||6||89||14.8||1||28|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
It was good to see OSU get the ground game going early. They didn’t do much against South Alabama so this was a good bounce back game for Justice Hill in particular. The Pitt defense was clearly focusing on Washington which provided opportunities for the many other weapons OSU has. This is why this offense got so much hype this season. It is nearly impossible to stop everybody.
Speaking of Justice Hill, how about this run? We saw an example of this in the Tulsa game as well. With a year in the weight room under strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass, Hill now has strength to go along with elusiveness. His combination of jukes and stiff arms is going to continue to terrorize defenders.
Freak. Show. 42-7 Pokes. pic.twitter.com/MfRdVHBj8J
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 16, 2017
Jalen McCleskey had himself a day. With Pitt giving Washington so much attention, McCleskey had the middle of the field to himself. He accumulated seven catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns. McCleskey, Washington, Ateman and Stoner all went for at least 100 yards receiving. First time this has happened since Texas Tech in 2005.
OSU set a school record for offensive yards in a half with 516 yards.
Early in this game commentator Dave Pasch asked if the Cowboys could get to the playoff with a “pedestrian defense”. I certainly wouldn’t describe OSU’s defensive play this season as “pedestrian”. The starters only gave up one touchdown to Tulsa in which they had to drive the field (the other touchdown and field goal were due to tunovers by the offense and special teams units giving Tulsa a short field). Tulsa has gone on to score 66 and 51 points the last two weeks. The starting defense then shutout South Alabama. Yesterday was another solid performance. The defense looks fast and the front has been as advertised. The secondary will continue to get better as the season goes on. Can’t wait to see what happens against TCU next week.
The play calling was pretty much flawless from OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. I really liked how they took some shots on second down, then called the play that would move the chains on third down when the deep shot wasn’t successful. It drove me crazy in the first two games when OSU had third and manageable but would throw to the end zone rather than pick up the fresh set of downs. This may be Rudolph taking a shot and not necessarily Yurcich’s call. Either way, I am glad we moved the chains this game. They were 9-9 on third down in the first half.
— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) September 16, 2017
Also this is very true. This is the equivalent of 2011 announcers resorting to talking about Brandon Weeden’s age and professional baseball career during blowouts.
Oklahoma State can measure the quality of its wins by how early the broadcast crew has to break out the mullet material. Early 2Q today.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 16, 2017