Mason Rudolph and James Washington hooked up nine times for 296 yards and two touchdowns when Oklahoma State beat Pittsburgh in 2016. The Panthers, coming off a promising effort against then-No. 4 Penn State last week, will seek to contain the duo on Saturday and find some pass offense of their own when the eighth-ranked Cowboys visit Heinz Field.
Rudolph completed 26-of-46 passes for a career-high 540 yards against the Panthers last season and Washington scored on receptions of 91 and 29 yards as the Cowboys outgained the Panthers 640-527 in the 45-38 shootout victory. Rudolph is off to a great start in 2017, completing 45-of-62 passes for 638 yards, accounting for eight total TDs with no interceptions. In last week’s 44-7 win over South Alabama, he passed for 335 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters and ran for another touchdown while breaking Brandon Weeden’s school record of 9,260 career passing yards. Pittsburgh lost 33-14 to Penn State but outgained the Lions 342-312 while holding them to their lowest point total in their last nine games.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Oklahoma State -13.5.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (2-0): Washington rode his school-record performance against the Panthers to first-team Big 12 honors a season ago, grabbing 71 passes for 1,380 yards, and the senior has eight catches for 243 yards and three TDs in the first two contests this season. The Cowboys can run the ball too, as Justice Hill (26 carries, 159 yards) and J.D. King (14, 159) lead a contingent of backs that have averaged 247.5 yards per game and 6.7 per carry in the first two contests. Oklahoma State has some concerns with its defense, as Kevin Henry and Kenneth Edison-McGruder are out with injuries and fellow linebacker Calvin Bundage will sit the first half after being ejected in the second half last week for targeting.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (1-1): USC graduate transfer Max Browne was 19-of-32 for only 138 yards against the Nittany Lions before leaving in the fourth quarter with a head injury, and he’s only averaging five yards per attempt with one TD and two interceptions in 56 throws this season. Qadree Ollison rushed for 96 yards and added 30 more through the air against Penn State as Pitt held the ball for over 38 minutes, but All-American scatback Quadree Henderson was limited to minus-five yards rushing, five yards receiving, 33 yards on two kickoff returns and zero yards on three punt returns. Against the Cowboys last season, Henderson rushed seven times for 95 yards and two TDs and added two catches for 31 yards in last year’s meeting during a season in which he accounted for 2,781 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns - five on kick returns.
1. Rudolph holds the longest active streak in the country of pass attempts without an interception at 185 and has thrown for 300 yards in each of his last three games and five of the last seven.
2. The Pittsburgh defense held up well against the explosive Nittany Lions despite breaking in nine new starters from an underachieving 2016 squad.
3. The Panthers last defeated a top-10 team at Heinz Field in 2003, a 31-28 triumph over No. 5 Virginia Tech.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 41, Pittsburgh 20