PITTSBURGH — Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is no stranger to torturing Pitt football. A year ago in Stillwater, Rudolph threw for a program-record 540 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-38 win, including a Cowboys-record 372 yards in the first half.
But what Rudolph did to the Panthers on their home field on Saturday was on another level. The senior Heisman Trophy candidate threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns in the first half to give the Cowboys a 49-14 halftime lead.
The ninth-ranked Cowboys eventually had mercy, pulling Rudolph in the third quarter of an eventual 59-21 victory. His final throw of the day was actually an interception on a deep ball to the end zone with 10:49 left in the quarter — ending a streak of 216 consecutive passes without a pick dating from last season, according to the Associated Press. It was the longest active streak in FBS. (Two plays later, Oklahoma State made up for it with a pick-six to make it 56-14.)
But that was essentially the only blemish on Rudolph’s afternoon. He finished 23 for 32 with 497 yards.
“Mason is a workaholic. Mason, he prides himself on being the Peyton Manning, the Tom Brady of college football. That’s what he prides himself on,” Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy said after the win. “And he backs it up.”
Oklahoma State had four 100-yard receivers — Jalen McCleskey (seven receptions for 162 yards and three touchdowns), James Washington (five for 124), Marcell Ateman (four for 109 and a score) and Dillon Stoner (5, 100, 1) — the first time that has happened in major college football in 12 years. The Cowboys had never had more than two receivers pull that feat in a game.
“They all did their job,” Rudolph said. “If we keep doing that, it’s going to take us far.”
But back to that first half. Do the math: In six quarters against the Panthers, Rudolph passed for 963 yards and seven touchdowns.
Here’s a snapshot of his and the Cowboys’ staggering numbers in the first two quarters:
- They had 523 total yards and could’ve had more had Pitt not turned in a 13-play scoring drive at the end of the half.
- They averaged 11.2 yards per play.
- They scored touchdowns on all seven first-half drives. That includes Rudolph touchdown throws of 54, 69, 8, 40 and 49 yards.
- They went 9 for 9 on third downs, with Rudolph completing five passes for conversions.
- Rudolph torched Pitt without much help in the first half from Washington, his preseason all-American wide receiver. Instead, McCleskey combined for 12 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns and Ateman had three receptions for 98 yards. Washington had three catches for 68 yards.
- The offense had 20 first downs and just one penalty.
Here’s a Heisman-type moment from Rudolph in the first quarter:
Pitt offers students free beverage during Oklahoma State trouncing and Internet loses it