PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph’s message to the rest of the Oklahoma State offense was simple. Playing half a country away from home against a Pittsburgh team that took the Cowboys to the wire a year ago, Rudolph didn’t want to leave anything to chance in the rematch.
“We wanted to come out and blow the top off this thing,” Rudolph said.
Done. And then some.
Rudolph gave his Heisman Trophy campaign an eye-popping kick start by throwing five touchdown passes during an immaculate first half to help No. 9 Oklahoma State rout the Panthers 59-21 on Saturday.
The Cowboys (3-0) reached the end zone on each of their first seven possessions, piling up 516 yards in the process, a school record for most yards in one half.
“I didn’t even pay attention to it,” Rudolph said. “I knew we scored a lot.”
Rudolph finished 23 of 32 for 497 yards before being pulled in the middle of the third quarter with Oklahoma State up by 42. He did throw his first interception of the season, ending a streak of 216 passes without a pick dating to November. He had 423 yards passing in the first half to break his own school record.
“Mason is a workaholic,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “He prides himself on being the Peyton Manning, the Tom Brady of college football. He prides himself on it and he backs it up.”
Rudolph lit up Pitt for 540 yards passing in a tense 45-38 victory in Stillwater last September. A year later, the Panthers were no better at keeping Rudolph in check.
Jalen McCleskey caught seven passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. James Washington added 124 yards receiving. Marcell Ateman (109) and Dillon Stoner (100) also reached the 100-yard receiving mark, the first time in 12 years a team has had four 100-yard receivers in a game. The Cowboys did it despite missing LSU transfer Tyron Johnson, suspended for the game for a violation of team rules.
As they did last season, Pitt played a significant amount of man coverage, though they did occasionally bring another body to keep tabs on Washington, who had 296 yards receiving last season. All it did was create matchup issues in other places.
“Pretty much everything we wanted was open ... especially Jalen,” Rudolph said. “He just had the middle of the field on lock down.”
The Panthers did attempt to bring pressure at times, but Rudolph expertly extended plays. He broke away from a potential sack in the first quarter and heaved the ball downfield to Ateman, who sidestepped a defender for a 69-yard touchdown strike to put the Cowboys up three touchdowns before the game was 12 minutes old.
It never got any better for Pitt.
“That’s about the worst day you can have at the office,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said.
Jayhawks extend road losing streak to 42 games
ATHENS, Ohio — Nathan Rourke threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio defeated Kansas 42-30 on Saturday, extending the Jayhawks’ road losing streak to 42 games, the longest active streak in the nation.
Rourke earned his first start against the Jayhawks after shining in the first two games of the season.
Rourke succeeded Quinton Maxwell as starting quarterback, but both played as planned — and both had success. Maxwell entered the game in the middle of the second quarter, and he completed 5 of 6 passes, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Troy Mangen. That was Maxwell’s second touchdown of the season.
Mangen, who hadn’t caught a pass this season until Saturday, had three receptions. Two of those were for touchdowns. He finished with 35 receiving yards.
West Virginia overcomes turnovers to down DSU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen wasn’t left discouraged by several early glitches in a blowout win over an FCS school.
Holgorsen came away pleased overall despite several first-half turnovers on offense and his defense’s inability to shut down Delaware State in the Mountaineers’ 59-16 victory on Saturday.
Will Grier threw three touchdown passes, Justin Crawford ran for three scores and West Virginia (2-1) compiled 538 yards of offense against the Hornets (0-3), who lost their 14th straight game. But West Virginia had plenty of problems on both sides of the ball in its final tuneup before the start of Big 12 play.
West Virginia scored touchdowns on six of 10 first-half possessions and led 45-10 at halftime. The other possessions were head scratchers. West Virginia fumbled the ball away twice and Grier threw an interception in the first half.
Grier finished 19 of 27 for 304 yards before going to the bench. He had TD throws of 62 and 16 yards to Marcus Simms and 28 yards to Ka’Raun White.