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Looking Back: Mason Rudolph Gets His First Taste of Bedlam

OSU’s offense got a shot in the arm with Rudolph at the helm.

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[USATSI]

This is the second part of our week-long series reliving Bedlam 2014. Catch up with Part 1 here.

OSU was on its third quarterback of the year due to injury, and Rudolph’s redshirt was now burned. To this point, all the Cowboys had to show for it, on paper, was their fifth-straight loss.

It’s easy to forget just how much pressure was on Mason Rudolph coming into this game. The true freshman’s second start was on the road against his school’s biggest rival as a major underdog. Lose and who knows what might have happened. The Pokes probably don’t go bowling and they/he miss out on an entire year of eligibility with nothing earned.

But in spite of the result in Waco, Rudolph’s debut had produced a surge of excitement around Oklahoma State.

His 281 passing yards against Baylor — somewhat pedestrian for him it would turn out — was the highest total the Cowboys had recorded in the air in seven games. More importantly, the offense seemed to move with purpose down the field (moving at all was a welcomed change) and this looked like a different team with the frosh QB taking snaps, one that more resembled the type of high-powered attack OSU fans had become accustomed to in recent years.

All of that spilled over into the first half against Oklahoma.

Rudolph went 10-for-15 for 138 yards and a touchdown in the opening two quarters. That second quarter score came on the play where Brandon Sheperd (who had a career game against the Sooners) lost his right shoe but finished his 39-yard trip to pay dirt. Why didn’t I think of “Shoeless Shep” until just now?

Blow for Blow

For that magic that occurred later to be possible, Rudolph and Oklahoma State’s mishmashed offensive line had to keep the visitors within striking distance of an OU offense that, while bitten by the injury bug, was still pretty damned dynamic. OU rode freshman phenom Samaje Perine most of the way early.

Perine was fresh off of an NCAA record 427-yard and five-score trampling of Kansas the week before, but that recently-punished earth of Owen Field was begging for more.

During the opening drive, Perine had 50 of OU’s 75 yards and a score, almost effortlessly. This is going to be a long day, I thought at the time. But the Cowboys answered with a seven-play, 77-yard drive of their own that ended with Desmond Roland’s goal-line touchdown for their first seven points of the game.

Coming in, OSU had given up a TD on its first two defensive possessions in four-straight games, but was able to force a punt on the Sooners’ second drive. Each team traded punts, then TDs, before the Sooner’s went up 28-14 late in the second quarter on an Aaron Ripkowski touchdown. The score would remain the same until the fourth, and the Pokes never were down by more than 14.

Keeping it Close

A lot happened in the third quarter, but none of it was reflected on the scoreboard. An OSU defense that had been suspect for much of the season allowed just 59 yards, forced two punts and earned a takeaway during that crucial period.

Before you point out that Perine went down with a leg injury, let me remind you that it wasn’t until 5:51 mark in the third when he fumbled the ball on the play that would send him to the sideline for good.

Once Perine was down, OU’s already one-dimensional attack, became human. Five of the Sooners’ next six drives ended three-and-out, leading up to their final scoreless drive in overtime. The one that wasn’t a three-and-out was the result of a 56-yard run by Keith Ford on the opening play of the possession. That Sooners got back into the end zone to go up 35-21 at the 7:54 mark in the fourth quarter.

They wouldn’t score again.

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