On the field where Mason Rudolph started his collegiate career, he threw a walk-off interception last year as his Cowboys suffered their second loss in three weeks. It was a familiar feeling against a familiar opponent. But this one meant the all-time leading passer in Oklahoma State history would end his career with one Big 12 stadium notch missing from his belt.
“You know, it sucks,” Rudolph said after the game “but you know, nothing we can do now. We’re going to move on, have a great Sunday.
“I have to be better. This offense has to be better.”
And they were. Rudolph and that offense followed up the trip to Waco in 2016 with a seven-game win streak and finished 10-3 for the second-straight year.
In 2014, a true freshman made his debut on a rainy night in Waco. The football team, Mike Gundy and OSU fans everywhere needed a spark. Riding a four-game skid and with things being anything but rosy in Stillwater, the Cowboys and Gundy traded away a full season of eligibility in the future for a chance to save the present. It paid off.
Rudolph performed admirably against the 7th-ranked team in the country and, despite a loss, gave OSU fans something to place their hopes in for the first time in a while. What followed were Bedlam and bowl wins that would not have been possible without Rudolph.
A year later, the tables were turned. Instead of riding a four-game losing streak, the Cowboys were 10-0 and had their sights on the Big 12 and more. But Baylor came to Stillwater and beat up OSU’s front line and eventually its quarterback.
The broken foot he suffered at the paw of the Bears would make Bedlam less than a moot point and may or may not have made a difference against what was apparently a stacked Ole Miss squad in the Sugar Bowl.
Round 3 against BU came on that frustrating night in Waco a year ago.
So what is it about the Bears that have made them so elusive to Rudolph (the only Big 12 team he’s never beaten) and the Cowboys for that matter? It’s hard to draw a ton of comparisons between the three games.
Under Art Briles, the Bears were really good — at football. The 2016 game came down to some costly mistakes by the Cowboys but Baylor still had pretty much the same offense, and at that point, still had Seth Russell.
But what about Rudolph? Here is a look at his three games against Baylor.
|Year||Comp/Att||Comp Pct.||Yards||TDs||INTs||Pass Rating|
And here are his career splits against Baylor and against everyone else.
|Comp Pct.||Avg. Yards||TD-INTs||Passer Rating||Record*|
|Against the Rest||63.9%||292.2||3.7:1||157.2||26-4|
*Record includes starts only and not the pointless series that he hobbled onto the field in 2015 Bedlam.
That 2015 game was one of the highest passing totals ever at OSU but QB1 had literally no help on the ground. The Cowboys played from behind for much of the game and gained a total of 8 rushing yards. Rudolph toughed it out on a injured foot and the Cowboys showed life, but it wasn’t enough.
Now with his team still very much in the race for a Big 12 title, Rudolph has his sights set on a reeling 0-5 Bear team as a 25.5-point favorite. This game should be as distinct among the group as any of the previous three — especially in the box score — and Rudolph should touch off his Tour de Big 12 with a victory over the only team that has eluded him thus far.