For the 9th time in Mike Gundy’s 13 seasons as head coach Oklahoma State, the Cowboys have started off 3-0. Pittsburgh is not exactly a top-tier opponent as they struggled to beat FCS-foe Youngstown State in week one and then got destroyed by Penn State last week, but today’s outcome was not expected to be a blowout as the Cowboys dominated the Panthers 56-21.
Mason Rudolph played just a little more than half the game for the third time in as many games as the offense scored on their first seven possessions of the game. Rudolph threw for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first half alone as the Cowboys entered halftime with a 49-7 lead. Rudolph finally made a mistake in the third quarter when he threw an interception after 231 consecutive completions without one.
Rudolph’s marquee target of the day was Junior wide receiver Jalen McCleskey who finished with 7 receptions, 162 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Rudolph also hit his All-American senior receiver James Washington five times for 124 yards and senior receiver Marcel Ateman 4 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt Freshman Dillon Stoner scored the first touchdown of his college career on a 54-yard bomb from Rudolph as he finished with 5 catches and 100 yards giving Oklahoma State four different 100-plus yard receivers for the day.
On the ground, Justice Hill had a quietly solid day as he only the ran the ball 11 times but managed to rack up 91 yards and two touchdowns. Back up J.D. King saw some action primarily in the second half as he ran the ball 16 times for 35 yards.
Perhaps one of the most impressive elements to Oklahoma State’s efforts today was the defense. Aside from giving up two touchdowns in the second quarter, the defense had no issues creating chaos and shutting down the Panthers’ offense. The Cowboys were incredible on third down, allowing Pittsburgh to convert just 5 of 15 third down attempts. Oklahoma State also managed to force two turnovers, both interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Justin Phillips for the second week in a row.
Three Quick Thoughts
Cowboy Offense Seems Invincible: After three games and three wins, Oklahoma State’s offense does not seem to have any real weakness. The offensive line has yet to be truly tested, but with a Heisman contender running the offense, a plethora of receivers to throw to, and a solid backfield, this offense could be one of the best Stillwater has ever seen.
Defense Not Pretending: Playing weak non-conference games to start the season is a really easy way to make your defense look good, but after three consecutive blowouts in which the defense has allowed an average of only 14 points per game, fact seems to be the case over fiction. If the Cowboys are able to continue with their strong play and find ways to force opponents into turnovers, the offense won’t be the only highlight of this Oklahoma State team.
Where’s the Challenge? After two cakewalk games, it was expected that Pittsburgh would pose more of a challenge. After all, Oklahoma State was not even a two-touchdown favorite, but after taking a 35-0 lead early, this game was never close. Conference play starts next week as the Cowboys host TCU in Stillwater, which should be a top-20 matchup. Oklahoma State will undoubtedly be ready for the challenge, but it will be interesting to see how well the Cowboys matchup against a ranked opponent.
Oklahoma State hosts TCU next Saturday as the Cowboys kickoff their conference play against the Horned Frogs at 2:30 PM in a game that is expected to be a top-20 matchup.