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OSU FOOTBALL: Cowboys look to lasso Jaguars

Mason Rudolph can become OSU’s all-time passing leader tonight against South Alabama.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The last time Oklahoma State’s football team ventured into the state of Alabama, the Cowboys were stunned by the Troy Trojans, 41-23, on a Friday night ten years ago. The Trojans were in their infancy in the Football Bowl Division joining the big time in 2001.

The No. 10 Pokes (1-0) are headed back to the Heart of Dixie for a Friday night encounter (7 p.m. ESPN 2) with unranked South Alabama (0-1). The Jaguars also are in their infancy in the FBS joining in 2012. The Cowboys were trying to find their identity in 2007, Mike Gundy’s third year as head coach. The Trojans had been blown out in their first two games (Arkansas and Florida). They nearly blew out the Cowboys, but OSU scored a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns to close the gap.

The 2017 OSU football team isn’t expected to be upset as a 28-point favorite, but if the Pokes take the Jags lightly and get beat, all sights on a College Football Playoff appearance will be tossed out the window. These Cowboys have the guns to make a playoff run, but they must take care of business first tonight.

The Jags can play tough with the big boys. They lost to Tennessee by a touchdown four years ago in Knoxville. UT led 31-7 early in the third quarter but USA fought back with 17 answered points to trail 31-24. The Jags drove from their 13 to the UT 8 late in the game, but the Volunteers intercepted a pass to seal the victory.

Last year, USA upset Mississippi State, 21-20 to open the season. The Jags scored twice in the fourth quarter to overcome a 20-7 deficit. The Bulldogs, coming off a 9-4 season in 2015, was favored by four touchdowns. They also upset 19th-ranked San Diego State, 42-24, a few weeks later.

The Jags met Miss State’s rival Ole Miss last week to open the 2017 season. The Rebels commanded the game early but a pair of Cole Garvin touchdown runs for the Jags in the final period closed the gap to 47-27. The junior signal-caller accounted for 222 yards and three touchdowns in just his fourth start dating back to a year ago.

USA struggled on third down picking up only one in 10 attempts against Ole Miss. The Rebels racked up 531 total yards.

“They have good team speed. It’s like every other game, and if you look at the scores from last week, it’s all about preparation,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “Fans and media may get tired of hearing that, but that’s the way it is. We have to maintain our focus because if you let your guard down, you can get beat. We need to be ready to go Friday night and have a good week of practice.”

USA senior safety Jeremy Reaves and freshman linebacker Riley Cole each recorded eight tackles against the Rebels, and Reaves was credited with two tackles for loss including one sack. Reaves become the fifth player in USA history to surpass 200 career tackles. Junior punter Corliss Waitman finished the game with a career high 46.4-yard average on five kicks.

The Cowboys’ offense rolled along last week as usual in their 59-24 win over Tulsa. Senior quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 20 of 24 passing for 303 yards and 3 TDs, and he ran for another touchdown. Eight Poke receivers caught a pass led by senior James Washington’s six receptions for 145 yards and a couple of scores.

The running game also rolled up 332 yards on the ground with sophomore Justice Hill leading the way with 132 yards and a touchdown. Freshmen J.D. King and LD Brown each added 95 and 92 yards respectively and both scored once.

OSU’s defense held Tulsa to 432 total yards, 95 yards under its average from last season and forced two turnovers, including a fumble that was returned 82-yards for a touchdown by linebacker Kenneth Edison-McGruder. O-State’s defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was disappointed that his defense allowed Tulsa to succeed on 16 of 26 third-down situations.

“We were spread out everywhere,” Spencer explained. “We had a linebacker pushed out to coverage one time, so we got spread out everywhere. It was enough to come in the next day, get rid of all those warm fuzzy feelings and correct it.”

The Pokes should not have any problem taming the Jaguars. The explosive playmakers will shine. With a victory, Rudolph surpasses Brandon Weeden for second place in career wins by a quarterback (24) and just four victories shy of tying the record held by head coach Mike Gundy in the late 1980s. Rudolph also needs 244 passing yards to become the all-time leader in OSU history. That mission should be accomplished before a crowd of 33,471 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, after all, Rudolph is a better quarterback than Mississippi’s Shea Patterson, who threw for 429 yards and 4 TDs against the Jags.

Fast Facts

*First meeting between both schools.

*This meeting is the first of a three-game agreement between the two programs, with USA scheduled to visit Stillwater on Sept. 8 next year and Oct. 16, 2023.

*Gundy’s coaching record: 105-50 overall (.677); 34-26 on the road; 1-1 in road openers

*USA coach Joey Jones’ record: 48-43 (.527) overall; 36-15 at home; 4-4 in home openers.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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