Losing in such a tragic manner last week had Oklahoma State looking to prove something. Was it that the Cowboys shouldn’t have lost to Central Michigan? That they should be ranked with their conference brethren?
Whatever the case, a fire was lit under the Pokes to prove that whatever the question, they were the answer. James Washington sprinted 91 yards to open the game with a touchdown catch-and-run from Mason Rudolph. Oklahoma State sent an early message to Pittsburgh.
After over three hours of game play and then a two-hour rain delay, the Pokes were tied, but the same desire to prove themselves had not diminished. With just under two minutes remaining in a 38-38 tie, Rudolph hooked up with Jajuan Seales for an 86-yard strike. The play set up a short run by Rennie Childs — his fourth score of the game — for the winning points, as OSU outlasted the Panthers, 45-38.
“They really had been attacking us, we were a long ways away from making the touchdown so we said, ‘Why not run a hitch-and-go?’,” coach Mike Gundy said of Seales’ play, “Fortunately it worked. [Rudolph] made a great throw and Seales made a terrific catch.”
The two plays of more than 85 yards bookended a game that lasted nearly six hours including the delay, which Gundy said helped OSU make needed adjustments. The Cowboys now have found a lifeblood that should give them great confidence heading into conference play. That’s especially true with Baylor first on the schedule in what’s surely to become a dueling banjos situation.
It’s hard to pinpoint just one aspect of the performance that speaks loudest, which is truly a testament to the offense’s quality. Washington had 296 yards receiving and two touchdowns on nine receptions. Rudolph also set the school record of 540 yards passing, with most of his and Washington’s stats coming from the first half.
Surprisingly what’s more valuable than those gaudy numbers is that a rushing attack was finally found. Maybe it spawned from the big-play ability Gundy took advantage of on every third play, but Childs became a force that has been absent from the OSU offense for the better part of two years.
Childs finished the night with four touchdowns and 101 yards on 10 touches, becoming the first 100-yard rusher in the nation’s brightest orange since he did against UTSA last season in Week 3. Yes, 67 of his yards did come from one carry, but that’s something Oklahoma State hasn’t been able to celebrate for quite some time, giving hope that it’s not only the passing game’s responsibility to pull off big plays in the nick of time.
That said, Gundy made sure there was plenty of opportunity for Oklahoma State to hit big passing plays.
Rudolph completed nine passes over 20 yards and four over 40 yards. Washington and Seales were the biggest beneficiaries of that high-flying mentality, combining for 425 yards and 16 receptions.
“I’m really proud of our team. After what we went through a week ago to comeback and get prepared, this is a really good football team,” Gundy said.
It’s just one game, but against a defense as stout as Pittsburgh’s, this trio of playmakers surrounding Rudolph has the Cowboys more than ready to spar with what’s become known as the nation’s fastest offense. Baylor has struggled early in games recently, making it the perfect time for Oklahoma State to make a push in the early part of the Big 12 season.