Here is everything you need to know about the Cowboys’ next game in our Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh Preview.
11:00 AM CT | Saturday, September 16th, 2017 | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Greg EcElroy, and Tom Luginbill))
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker, Dave Holcomb, and Robert Allen)
Satellite Radio: Internet (968)
Internet Radio: http://okla.st/osutunein
Oklahoma State Cowboys
MLB Chad Whitener
With a first half suspension of Calvin Bundage for targeting and the uncertainty of Kenneth Edison-McGruder because of a nagging injury OSU’s linebacking corp is suddenly thin. It’s very important for Whitener to have a good game. The senior won’t wow you with his athleticism but he plays smart and is always in the right place. His ability to make sure his suddenly less experienced position group is in the right spot will be huge for the success of the defense. He’ll need a mistake free game against a Panther offense that involves a lot of shifts and motions.
LT Aaron Cochran
The Cowboy offensive line got a much needed boost in the off season with the addition of the monster Cal grad transfer. At 6 foot 8, 350 lbs he was a welcome addition to a line that returned four players with starting experience but struggled a lot of last season. Maybe he’s still adjusting to the speed OSU’s offense but he has a habit of playing more like a guard than a tackle, trying to man handle rushers instead of staying focusing on staying in front of them. Because of this he gives up the edge too often. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi likes an attacking defense and he will try to take advantage of Cochran’s apparent weakness by sending pressure on Mason Rudolph’s blindside constantly. If the big man can hold up the Cowboy passing attack should have a huge day with the deep ball.
RB Justice Hill
After a huge first game against Tulsa Hill was bad against South Alabama. Part of that was a vanilla game plan by OSU for an outmatched opponent. The other part was South Alabama loading the box to stop the run and put pressure on Rudolph, a game plan the Cowboys should expect to see often as trying to cover those receivers for very long probably isn’t going to work out for many teams. Hill needs to find a way to lower his head and get the tough yards in the middle or he may lose to time to his back up J.D. King, who as a true freshmen is already impressing people with his powerful style of running behind his pads and punishing tacklers.
The entire Pittsburgh offense
The Cowboys are going to score, probably score fast, and Pittsburgh probably can’t match them. The Panther offense has the be efficient. Under Narduzzi Pittsburgh has been a time of possession machine and holding the ball against Oklahoma State should be the plan but the drives MUST produce points, especially touchdowns. An eight minute drive that ends in a punt or a field goal may as well be a turnover. The Panthers need to grind it out, move the chains, avoid turnovers and three and outs. If they can have success doing that and keep it close, combined with the lack of rest because of the Pokes quick strike offense, the defense should be tired and give them a shot in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Are the Cowboys a playoff contender or just another nice 10 win team? After thrashing two teams they should thrash we still don’t know. Pittsburgh may not be a world beater but they are still a Power 5 team and should be the best measuring stick so far of the young season. Can the Oklahoma State offense dominate a more serious opponent like everyone expects they can? Oklahoma State’s offensive line’s ability to protect Mason Rudolph against the attacking Panther defense will let us know a lot about whether the Cowboys have arrived as a contender or still have work to do.
The Panthers won a few big games last year, knocking off Penn State and eventual National Champion Clemson. They almost beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater early in the year. While Pittsburgh lost last season’s stars at quarterback and running back and haven’t looked particularly good they are going into the perfect game to prove they aren’t in a rebuilding year. The Cowboys weaknesses seems to line up perfectly with the Panthers strengths. Can they knock off another top 10 team and win another game everyone thinks they will lose? If they can it should help Pat Narduzzi to continue to build up his program.
Oklahoma State 42, Pittsburgh 21
Pittsburgh would’ve beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater last year had a long lightning delay not gifted OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer time to make major adjustments to his run defense. I’m sure the Panther coaching staff is reminding the team of that but it shouldn’t matter. This years Cowboy team is better than last year while Pitt has gotten worse. Gone are last years stars at quarterback and running back, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada left for LSU. Mason Rudolph and James Washington terrorized the Pitt secondary in the last match up and that trend should continue. The Panthers just don’t have the athletes to match up against the Cowboy receivers. Pittsburgh takes advantage of Oklahoma State’s linebacker issue until Bundage returns for the second half and then the Pokes pull away. Mike Yurcich opens up his play book and scores more than Penn State did but the Panthers move the ball more than Cowboy fans like, especially in the first half.