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RECAP & THOUGHTS: Oklahoma State rolls South Alabama 44-7

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The Cowboys faced a tricky matchup on the road against South Alabama, and passed the test with flying colors.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at South Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State rolled into Mobile, Alabama, on Friday night as the 11-ranked team in the country with a [Jaguar?] trap waiting in front of them. Coming off a 59-24 win over Tulsa, the Pokes looked to continue their dominance against inferior opponents.

South Alabama welcomed the Cowboys into Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the highest-ranked opponent to play the Jaguars at home. Having played Ole Miss tough in Oxford just a week ago, many thought South Alabama would put up a fight against the Pokes. Many even thought this could be a slip-up game.

The Cowboys started quickly, scoring 20 points in the first quarter. They forced two turnovers, and eventually coasted to a dominating 44-7 road victory against a pretty solid Sun Belt squad.

Let’s not waste any time. Let’s get to the thoughts.

THOUGHTS:

  • MASON RUDOLPH: JACKED UP.

ME: JACKED UP.

  • I thought the absence of Kenneth Edison-McGruder and Kevin Henry would be more noticeable, but after giving only 41 yards (!!!) on the ground, it didn’t appear to be much of a factor. After the game, it was reported that Kevin Henry will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. John Helsley reported Henry went down with a non-contact injury in practice on Wednesday.
  • Can we please just stop playing these types of games? I think all you’re asking for is trouble. South Alabama was no Central Michigan, (he said with great sarcasm), but with where OSU is at as a program right now, they’ve got to reassess this.
  • Let’s go ahead and get the uniform talk out of the way right now. Oklahoma State should never wear another uniform on the road. Black-White-Orange is so fresh and SO clean. After that 2011 ISU loss in the same combo, they’ve certainly exorcised those demons.

  • The front seven was incredible all night. Aside from the last drive in the first half, the Cowboy defense imposed its will on the Jags. They limited USA to 41 total yards rushing on the night, which is impressive on its own, but even more so when you think of them being a run-first team. They didn’t let USA operate on offense in the slightest.
  • Tonight was a perfect example of how deadly this Cowboy offense is. On multiple occasions, South Alabama stacked the box and successfully took away the run, but couldn’t do anything against the pass. This is where the dilemma lies. You can even break it down further... If defenses decide to go for broke and play both the run and pass straight up, then they’ve got to decide who to double cover. That then leaves one-on-one opportunities for someone else. It’s a full-fledged pick your poison situation with this Cowboy offense.
  • Matt Ammendola being incapable of making a field goal within 32 yards, and automatic beyond 45, is one of America’s great mysteries. Here’s a thought: if you’ve got a 28-yarder, just go ahead and take a few delay of game penalties and back that thing up to 45 yards, and bang, 3 points.

I’m clearly not the only person with this idea.

  • Mason Rudolph remained fully locked in. His final stat line was 25-of-38 for 335 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Heisman talk becomes more of a possibility every week that passes.
  • I don’t want to be hyperbolic, because it was South Alabama, but Oklahoma State did everything they were supposed to. Sure, it would be great to drop 65 points every game, but that’s not going to happen. Sometimes you’re going to sleep walk through a game. This team is so good, though, that when they do, they win by 37 points.
  • This Twitter poll actually got brought up on the ESPN broadcast tonight. I’m still blown away by the results. I need an explanation here.

  • I forgot how exciting pick-sixes were. In a blowout game, this got me off of my seat, and I probably woke up a neighbor or two in the process. Justin Phillips LITERALLY BROKE A TACKLE WITH HIS ELBOW.

  • Calvin Bundage getting thrown out for targeting is a big deal. Not only did he get tossed for the second half of tonight’s game, but he’s now suspended for the first half of next week’s game at Pittsburgh. Bundage is an absolute wrecking ball in the middle of the defense, and at times, can be a little out of control with the way he tackles. He’ll learn, but he’s got to do it soon because he’s already too valuable to the defense to be getting tossed for games at a time.

  • One more thought on the targeting thing: The way the rule is defined totally sucks. Yeah, I’m all for player safety and whatnot, but at some point, the rule has to be redefined. By the letter of the law, Bundage committed targeting on this play.

When I saw the flag, I immediately thought it was for targeting. That being said, the rule states that the player has to be “defenseless.” Well, in this case, the running back lowers his shoulder and is dragged down. I just don’t think the definition of targeting is clear at all, and it leads to conversations like this:

Also, HOLY CRAP!

  • There will be better days on the ground for Oklahoma State. I thought they did all they could with seven in the box from South Alabama. Justice Hill, though, on multiple occasions, brought the hit to the defender. That’s really all you can ask when the run game just isn’t working.

Thoughts from readers:

Cade: I’ll need to study the film more, but it felt like they ran the same plays over and over again. I certainly think they didn’t show any more of the playbook than they did against Tulsa.

I tweeted at the end of the first half that the offense went full vanilla. They didn’t show much of anything, and they were still able to impose their will through the air. I can’t wait to see what these guys can do against teams like West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Cade: Can they? No. Will they? Oh, absolutely. If Auburn beats Clemson and Oklahoma loses to Ohio State, expect the Cowboys to stay right where they’re at, or drop a spot on Sunday in the AP Poll.

Cade: Agreed on all of that. I think a huge reason why the run game was slowed down was because of what South Alabama did defensively. I’ll look more into this over the weekend, but they constantly had seven or even eight in the box, which is why the Pokes feasted through the air, and struggled on the ground.

I don’t like the “repeatedly bang your head against the wall” gameplan, but on the same token, they didn’t turn the ball over and rolled out with a win. I’ll take that all day.

Cade: Yes, we can run the ball. Don’t think of tonight as the rule, think of it as the exception. The Pokes ran for over 300 yards last week against a veteran defensive line in Tulsa, and could’ve gone for more.

I don’t think they’re elite by any means, but they’ve got a chance to be. They took what the defense gave them and chose to pick apart South Alabama through the air, rather than on the ground. It was obvious that the Jags couldn’t keep up.

Cade: I’m going to pick out one thing here about the linebackers. I’m scared of Pitt now. They run so much motion on offense that the linebackers are going to have to play disciplined football. That being said, Edison-McGruder, Whitener and Bundage (who will play in the second half) should be enough to slow that running game down.

Pitt is searching for a QB, and they don’t have a go-to running back. If OSU can just keep it in front of them next week, the offense should be more than enough to overwhelm them.

Note: Wudtee is actually the next J.W. Walsh, not the next Vince Young.

PLAYS OF THE GAME (FROM OKLAHOMA STATE ATHLETICS)