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OSU FOOTBALL: Cowboys return to Saturday lineup

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James Washington currently holds the OSU career receiving record with 19.8 yards per reception.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State returns to a regular Saturday contest this week after opening on a Thursday and playing on a Friday in their first two games. The No. 8 Cowboys (2-0) travel to Pittsburgh to meet the unranked Pitt Panthers (1-1) at Heinz Field. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on ESPN.

The Pokes had no problem dispatching South Alabama last Friday as they cruised to a 44-7 victory in Mobile. Mason Rudolph passed for 335 yards, three touchdowns, ran for a score and broke Oklahoma State's career passing mark with 9,352 yards. James Washington led with the most receiving yards (2-98, 1 TD) but Marcell Ateman had the most grabs with 5 for 51 yards and a couple of scores.

Rudolph holds the longest active streak in the country of pass attempts without an interception at 185 and needs just 10 more attempts to break Brandon Weeden's school record of 194, set during the 2011 season.

The Panthers will face their second consecutive top-10 opponent after falling last week to No. 4 Penn State on the road, 33-14. The Nittany Lions never trailed in the game. The Panthers opened the season with a 28-21 overtime victory over Youngstown State, an FCS team. Pitt held a 21-0 lead at the half, but YSU fought back late to force a tie. Pitt quarterback Max Browne threw the game-winning touchdown to Jester Weah.

Browne, a senior, has completed 36 of 56 passing for 278 yards with his only touchdown in that overtime win. He has thrown two interceptions, both coming against Penn State. Weah, also a senior, leads the Panthers with 7 receptions for 76 yards and the OT catch.

Junior Quadree Ollison leads the team with 187 rushing yards and a couple of TDs.

The Panthers rank 99th nationally in total offense (345-yard average) and 102nd in scoring (21.0).

Junior linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu leads Pitt with 15 tackles including three stops behind the line of scrimmage. The defense has allowed 365 yards (67th) and 27 points (77th) per game this year.

Rudolph is four wins shy of tying Mike Gundy for the most wins by a quarterback in Cowboy history. Rudolph ranks 10th nationally with a 190.5 passer rating. Washington currently holds the OSU career record for 19.8 yards per reception. He leads the Pokes with 8 catches for 243 yards and 3 TDs. Sophomore Justice Hill and freshman J.D. King each have rushed for a team-high 159 yards in the first two outings.

The Cowboys rank 10th nationally with 572.5 yards and ninth with 51.5 points per game.

The OSU defense has forced a turnover, which resulted in a touchdown, in each of the first two games. Junior linebacker Kenneth Edison-McGruder returned a fumble recovery for a score against Tulsa. Junior linebacker Justin Phillips intercepted a South Alabama pass and rolled 25 yards for a score.

The Cowboys’ defense has held their foes to 303.5 yards (40th) and 15.5 points per game (31st) per game. Senior safety Tre Flowers leads OSU with 11 tackles.

OSU won 45-38 last year as Rennie Child’s 1-yard touchdown run broke a 38-all deadlock with 1:28 remaining in the game. Rudolph completed 26 of 46 passing for 540 yards and two touchdowns. Washington was on the receiving end of 9 of those aerials for 296 yards and a pair of scores. Rudolph connected with Washington for a 91-yard touchdown on the game’s opening play.

The Panthers lost four more games last year to finish with an 8-5 record, but all five losses were by a combined 18 points. More importantly, Pitt knocked off Penn State, the 2016 Big Ten champion, and handed Clemson its only loss of the season last year. The Tigers went on to claim the national championship.

Pitt needs to get its offense in second gear this week if it wants to keep pace with the Pokes firepower. The Cowboys are going to have to earn this one just as they did last year, but this time it’s not in the friendly confines of Boon Pickens Stadium. The Panthers need to control the ball if they have any chance of a victory. They are a very disciplined football team as evident by controlling time of possession with an average of 36:35 per game. Pitt also is ranked third-best nationally with only six penalties for 55 yards in the first two games.

The Panthers must control the clock to keep OSU’s explosive offense on the bench. The Pokes have held the ball an average of 26:42 (101st).

"We're really good,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said about the team’s health “It’s been a physical practice today, and the guys are raring to go, but I think we're firing on all cylinders right now as far as health goes.”

The Pokes will continue firing on all cylinders against the Panthers.

FAST FACTS 

*OSU leads the series 1-0.

*OSU is favored by 13.5.

*OSU coach Mike Gundy’s record: 106-50 overall (.679); 35-26 on the road; 1-0 vs. Pitt.

*Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi’s record: 17-11 (.607) overall; 10-4 at home; 0-1 vs. OSU.

*OSU is 4-2-1 in games played on Sept. 16.

*Pitt is 3-3 in games played on Sept. 16.

 

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Ray Dozier

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

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