The Pokes travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., on Saturday to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second meeting in two years between the schools.
Our staff got together to discuss last week’s win over South Alabama, and to look forward to the Pitt matchup. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s jump in.
1) Everybody seemed concerned about the South Alabama game beforehand. Were you concerned? If so, how did the Pokes do in your opinion?
Joel Penfield: I was concerned purely because it was a night game on a Friday, Ames, IA has ruined me. Oklahoma State needed to go in there and absolutely dominate, which is what they did. They imposed their will early and this was one was over in the first quarter.
Dustin Ragusa: After watching South Alabama vs Ole Miss, I wasn't really concerned. There's always the chance something weird will happen on the road, especially on a Friday night, but I knew we were far more talented than USA and had a good feeling we would dominate this one.
I thought we played well overall. The offense wasn't as crisp as it was against Tulsa, and the struggles with the run, even against a stacked box defense from South Alabama, was a little concerning, but it was a solid outing. The defense was impressive. I know, I know, it's South Alabama, but they put up 27 on Ole Miss and we basically shut them out.
Brodie Smith: No, I was never concerned about that game. I just wanted the Pokes to show up and put on a show in front of a national audience. Apparently the stadium electronics couldn't handle the firepower OSU rolled in with various issues with the time clocks and scoreboards. The Cowboys performed well without a repeat performance of Savannah State. Let's face it, it wasn't as electrifying as we may have expected going in, but it certainly got the job done and allowed the staff to give meaningful reps to players further down the depth chart.
Cullen Clark: I wasn't nervous about the Cowboys chances of winning. I was more nervous about how they would win. Great teams blow out teams like South Alabama and we haven't done that in the past couple of years. That being said the Cowboys at time didn't seem interested in this game. I understand that the atmosphere was not what they are used to and that it was probably hard to get up for that game. I still think that they went out and handled business like a Top 10 team should against an inferior opponent.
Micah Allen: I wasn't concerned at all, I figured they'd get in and out with a win pretty easily. We played like I expected us too. Dominating the passing game and the defense played excellent. I was disappointed with the Bundage targeting, he should know better in my opinion, but other than that I didn't see anything that worried me. I liked the excitement from Mason Rudolph.
Will Hendrickson: Wasn't concerned at all, I was definitely more anxious about the Tulsa game than I was about South Alabama. I thought they played awesome and did everything you ask for against an outmatched opponent on the road. I wished we could have finished a couple more drives instead of settling for field goals, but other than that I thought we completely dominated.
Gallagher Martin: . I was a tad nervous just because that's a game we had to not only win, but dominate on national television. We did that on both sides of the ball, so I'm definitely pleased. It's probably fair to say I was more nervous for South Alabama than I am for Pittsburgh. Oklahoma State will take Pitt seriously, but I wasn't sure where the mentality would be for South Alabama. We were able to rest our starters by the third quarter, so you can't ask for much more.
2) How do you gauge OSU's Big 12 title chances after what you saw from Oklahoma and TCU last weekend?
Joel: I think it's between Oklahoma State and OU for the Big 12 title. I still don't believe in TCU, I think that game showed that Arkansas is not that good, they looked horrible. Kenny Hill was average in that game (21-31, 166 yards, and a pick). We'll see next week when the Horned Frogs come to town if they are legit or not.
Dustin: I still think we are the favorite. Now I'm not gonna lie, OU looked awesome and TCU played really well too, but for now, I'm sticking with the Pokes.
Brodie: The Big XII is pretty much what we thought it would be. I'm not shocked by OU's upset in Columbus, and TCU's win over Arkansas was unexpected but doesn't really tell us much. It's still early, and we have a small sample size to pick through. OSU's chances have not changed after two weeks, and they should still be slotted to advance to the conference's title game.
Cullen: They're right where they were going into the season. We always knew that to win the Big 12 that the Cowboys were going to have to beat OU. OU is better than I think a lot were giving them credit for but I believe the Cowboys are better than a lot of people were giving them credit for as well. TCU is definitely in the top four teams in the conference after the first couple of games. I do think their defense is better this year but I'm still not sold that Kenny Hill can carry the team to a win if he has to.
Micah: I think they've got the same chances as of right now as they had before. The offense has been so good in the first two games and the defense has been solid. So as of right now, I think they have the same chances until they prove me other wise.
Will: About the same as I have before. We get both of those teams in Stillwater and with the talent we have, it would be a disappointment to not be playing in the Big 12 title game. OU looked awesome and Baker showed he is still probably the best QB in the Big 12, if not the country. With that being said, I'm still not sold on that Ohio State team, they look like an 8-9 win team right now. TCU's defense looks much improved and back up to the standard of a Gary Patterson defense. If Kenny Hill can play at a higher level, TCU could get back to 10 wins this season.
Gallagher: While it was a nice win for TCU, I wasn't really all that impressed. The defense looked legit, but I still don't think they're on the same level as OU or OSU. As for OU, I expected them to win, just not by that large of a margin. If you seriously thought Oklahoma would fail to show up for that game two years in a row, that's on you. I'm not any more worried about OU than I was to start the season. I still like Oklahoma State's chances to win the Big 12.
3) After two games, what do you like about what you've seen, and what are you still concerned about?
Joel: The offense is as good as advertised, if not better. It is hard to imagine a defense stopping this offense, there are just too many weapons and too many different ways the Cowboys to go. The offensive line still is a little bit of a cause for concern. The line has improved no doubt, but at times the pocket collapsed a little sooner than it should have against South Alabama. Rudolph was still able to get throws off, but he is not as good when he has to extend the play and scramble, he needs a clean pocket.
Dustin: I really like what I've seen in the passing game. Obviously Mason and the receiving corps, but also I've been really impressed with the offensive lines pass protection. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line was amazing against USA, I was a little worried after the Tulsa game with their inability to get pressure until late in the game, but they won't me over with their performance last Friday.
As far as concerns go, the injury to Kevin Henry and KEM being day to day make me a little nervous about the linebacker depth... not to mention Brendan Vaughn being dismissed from the team. I also still am not sold on the corner backs. I want to see them face some real qb and wr talent before I make up my mind.
Brodie: I'm concerned that the offensive line won't be able to sustain holes for the rushing attack. Against Tulsa, the Cowboys dominated up front, and the running backs made the most of it. But that was the first game. Last week, Justice Hill and Co. struggled to gain the yardage we had expected until later in the game. OSU will have to be able to run the ball to balance the offense and keep conference defenses off balance. I wonder if the line will be consistent enough.
Cullen: I've been a fan of the defense. The defensive line and linebackers have looked pretty good to me. I am concerned with how our secondary handles a Big 12 offense since we have yet to see an effective passing game. As far as the offense is concerned I am all in. No concerns on that side of the ball for me through two games.
Micah: I like the way this offense has been playing, they've been fast and they're not being as safe as they have been. I would still like to see them take a few risks but overall I'm happy. The defense is playing better than expected.
Will: What is not to love about this offense? Rudolph and Washington have picked up where they left off, Justice Hill is bigger, stronger and maybe faster, Ateman and Johnson would be number one WRs on most other teams in the country and the O-line looks solid so far. On the other side of the ball, I'm impressed with our D-line and our play at linebacker through the first couple of games. I'm still worried about our secondary though. We haven't face a real threat at QB yet so it's still unknown how they will fair against better competition. With that being said, I like how they competed against TU and USA.
Gallagher: I love the confidence of this team. Mason Rudolph looks like the most confident person on the field, and that is very encouraging. My biggest concern is Matt Amendola. He's money from 50+ but he's got to become more consistent in his shorter kicks. He's only a sophomore so he should progress as the season continues, I just hope we don't have any games that come down to a field goal.
4) Looking forward to the Pitt game, how are you feeling about this matchup? It should be OSU's first real test of the season.
Joel: I am really nervous for this game, not going to lie. This feels like a game that Oklahoma State will have to grind out to win, just like last year. Maybe I am just overthinking this game, but with the high expectations of this season I feel really nervous before any game played.
Dustin: I feel pretty good about it. Pitt has looked pretty one dimensional against Bo Pelini and the Penguins of Youngstown St and Penn State. They aren't able to get much going through the air with USC transfer QB Max Browne. They still have some playmakers on offense in Ollison and Henderson, but I think the Cowboy defense will be able to handle what Pitt throws at them. Having played against them last year, even though they've had a lot of personnel and coaching changes, really benefits Glenn Spencer and the OSU defense. On offense, OSU threw all over Pitt last year, and I expect them to have a solid day through the air again this year. Pitt's pass defense was pretty sub-par last season and they don't look to have improved too much.
I think OSU wins this one fairly easily on the road.
Brodie: Pitt flashed some resistance to Penn State's Hesiman hopefuls (McSorley and Barkley), and moved the ball effectively in a comeback attempt late in the game. OSU's offense is an entirely different beast with a broader array of weapons to counter. The Cowboys should be a favorite and should cover the spread, but it will need to attack early to set the tone and keep the Panthers at a distance. Pitt is young on offense and isn't currently constructed for a sustained come-from-behind skillset.
Cullen: I feel good. This Pitt team lost a lot from last season. They have concerns in the secondary so the OSU passing game should be able to get big plays again. If I'm concerned about anything it has to be Henderson. The Cowboys defense and special teams are going to have to contain him all day. He's a big play waiting to happen.
Micah: After watching them play Penn State on Saturday, I'm not super worried. The only thing that concerns me is the fact that this game is going to draw a large Pitt crowd and I don't think Mason has ever played in a stadium like Heinz field before.
Will: I feel pretty good about this one. Pitt is more one-dimensional on offense than they were a year ago and some of their best defensive talent is suspended. Pitt will look to lean on their run game and I like our front seven better than our secondary. Pitt will surely try and double team James Washington most of the day and leaving space in the box for Justice and J.D. King to gash them on the ground. Pat Narduzzi had some high praise for Justice Hill and he backs it up on Saturday.
Gallagher: I'm feeling very good about this Pitt game. The Panthers were a better team last year, we were a worse team last year, and we still won that matchup. Pitt also struggled against Youngstown State this year, so I really don't see them giving us much of a ballgame.
5) Predictions? Give me your player of the game and a score.
Joel: I'm gonna go 38-24 Cowboys. This will be a close game for the first 3 quarters, but then the Cowboy offense will impose their will in the 4th quarter to pull away. I think this is going to be the week that Tyron Johnson breaks out in a big way, I want to see him more involved in the offense and hopefully they will this week.
Dustin: Mason Rudolph. 38 - 17 Cowboys.
Brodie: The offense is the bell cow for OSU, but I'm going to roll with Chad Whitener for the player of the game. I just feel like he's ready to attack the Pitt offense and establish himself as a force on this defense, especially with injuries and suspensions at linebacker. I'm anticipating a couple of sacks, some big stops and even a pick that helps push the Pokes to a 44-17 victory on the road.
Cullen: Player of the game: James Washington - I think he strikes again like last year. 45-28, Good Guys.
Micah: James Washington, 35-14 Cowboys.
Will: I think Pitt sells out to stop the passing attack, and who can blame them after last year, and Justice Hill has his best game of the season so far. Pokes 41 - Pitt 20.
Gallagher: 44-20 OSU. Has Pitt found anyone who can guard James Washington? No? Okay, I'll go with him.