With a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback and a strong running game, No. 11 Oklahoma State tries to flaunt its newfound balanced attack when it visits South Alabama on Friday night. The Cowboys were 66th nationally in rushing last season at 170.8 yards per game, but gained nearly double that amount (332) in their season-opening 59-24 victory over Tulsa.
Oklahoma State senior quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was 20-for-24 for 303 yards and three touchdowns against the Golden Hurricane after directing the country’s No. 8 passing attack in 2016, watched his club pile up 332 yards rushing. Sophomore running back Justice Hill led the way with 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries as Cowboys coach Mike Gundy already sees a strong cohesiveness in his offensive unit. “I’m confident that we have good leadership and that there’s enough, for lack of a better term, peer pressure to want to perform at a higher level,’’ coach Mike Gundy told reporters. “These guys care about each other and we have some great team chemistry early in the season.” The Jaguars, picked to finish fourth in the Sun Belt Conference, recorded a turnover-free performance and trailed by only three at halftime before succumbing to Ole Miss 47-27 in their opener.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Oklahoma State -28
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (1-0): The Cowboys will attack South Alabama with three running backs that gained at least 92 yards last week, including freshmen J.D. King (six carries, 95 yards, one touchdown) and La’Darren Brown (five, 92, one). “It’s been great,” Rudolph told reporters. “I kind of wanted to see the freshman guys come out and play, and J.D. answered the bell, as well as L.D. getting the first few snaps of his career.” Senior wide receiver James Washington, who eclipsed 1,000 yards the last two seasons, should have little trouble getting there in 2017 after recording 145 yards and two touchdowns on six catches last week.
ABOUT SOUTH ALABAMA (0-1): The Jaguars need another strong performance from senior safety Jeremy Reaves, who became the fifth player in school history to record 200 career tackles after registering eight but was part of a defense that yielded more than 400 passing yards (429). Sophomore running back Tra Minter gained 83 yards on 12 carries in his South Alabama debut, spearheading a ground attack that totaled 170 yards. Junior quarterback Cole Garvin threw for one touchdown and rushed for two versus the Rebels.
1. Oklahoma State has scored 20 or more points in 30 straight games — the second-longest streak in the nation (Oregon, 41).
2. The Jaguars engineered a 19-play, 95-yard scoring drive (field goal) in 9 minutes, 40 seconds versus Ole Miss, the longest drive by plays and time in school history.
3. The Cowboys are 15-1 versus the Sun Belt Conference, losing at Troy (41-23) in 2007.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 48, South Alabama 20