PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mason Rudolph threw five touchdown passes, all in the first half, and No. 9 Oklahoma State drilled Pittsburgh 59-21 on Saturday.
Rudolph completed 23 of 32 passes for 497 yards before being pulled in the middle of the third quarter with the Cowboys (3-0) in full command. He did throw his first interception of the season, ending a streak of 216 consecutive passes without a pick dating back to last season. It was the longest active streak in the FBS.
“He made some big plays today at crucial times and you see the importance of having a quarterback that can make plays,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. He just made a lot of plays. He got out of his box one time, and when he did, he made an interception.”
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.
The Cowboys reached the end zone on each of their first seven possessions, including a pair of touchdown runs by Justice Hill. Oklahoma State converted all nine of its third downs in the opening half.
“You don’t have to do much besides your job and you look up James, or Marcell or somebody is out there scoring a touchdown,” Hill said. “If they’re not doing something, either I’m running the ball or JD is running the ball.”
Pitt (1-2) simply couldn’t keep up. Struggling graduate transfer quarterback Max Browne lasted just over a quarter before being replaced by sophomore Ben DiNucci. DiNucci guided the Panthers to touchdowns on his first two drives but fizzled in the second half, completing 13 of 25 passes for 228 yards with a touchdown and two picks.
“We have a decision to make,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said.
Oklahoma State held off Pitt 45-38 in Stillwater last season behind a school-record 540 yards passing by Rudolph. The rematch was a mismatch. The Cowboys did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted during a first half in which they rolled up 516 yards.
When Rudolph hit McCleskey over the middle for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 3:40 left in the second quarter, Oklahoma State was up by 42 and a large portion of the home crowd was on its way to the exit despite an enticement from Pitt officials for students to stay.
The Cowboy’s 49 points in the first half were the most given up by Pitt since it allowed 52 in the first half of a 72-0 loss to Ohio State in 1996.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys can take their hyper-tempo offense anywhere and opponents have far more to fear than Mason-to-Washington. By the time Washington caught his first pass, a seven-yard hookup midway through the second quarter, Oklahoma State was already up five touchdowns.
Pitt: Any headway the defense made in a respectable performance a week ago against Penn State vanished in the span of a quarter. The Panthers played man coverage on the outside in hopes of bringing pressure on Rudolph, a plan that misfired badly a year ago and was no better at home. Pitt will get suspended safety Jordan Whitehead back next week.
Oklahoma State: Welcomes No. 20 TCU to Boone Pickens Stadium in Big 12 opener on Saturday. Cowboys have won two straight over the Horned Frogs.
Pitt: Begins Atlantic Coast Conference play at Georgia Tech next Saturday. The teams have split four meetings since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2012.
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