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Takeaways: Rudolph-to-Washington Propels OSU Past Baylor in Homecoming



STILLWATER — Oklahoma State started slow but finished fast on Saturday, falling behind 7-0 then hitting the gas pedal to score 59 of the next 68 on the day. It was a demolition from top to bottom.

“Thought we played really well today with the exception of turning the ball over,” said Mike Gundy. “Defensively we tackled better, forced some turnovers, got a fumble, an interception when the game still mattered. And I thought we defended better for the most part on third down.”

1. OSU goes as Mason goes

It’s no coincidence that OSU’s sluggish start coincided with Mason Rudolph’s sluggish start. He opened the game 1-for-4 through the air, sailing a ball over his tallest receiver and leading James Washington by a country mile, but he found a rhythm and made plays in the 59-16 rout.

After OSU’s first drive which resulted in a punt (and the next which was cut short by a muffed punt), OSU went on to score touchdowns in each of its next 5 drives as Rudolph tightened up his game and began delivering seeds like a lawn spreader.

“It was great. The atmosphere was great from the start and it was packed,” Rudolph said. “The offense was moving the ball and the defense was getting turnovers and stops.”

Rudolph accounted for 4 touchdowns and finished the day with 459 yards passing, tying Brandon Weeden with an OSU record of 400-yard passing games.  When he’s rollin’, OSU is as well. And he had a monstrous day despite a few throws in the early going he says he wished he had back.

2. Third down defense improvement

Coming into Saturday, Oklahoma State allowed teams to convert on 46.3 percent of its third down attempts — a mark which ranked 112th (out of 129) in FBS. But after a sluggish 3-of-5 conversion attempts allowed, the Cowboy defense rallied and finished with a 38.8 percent rate — a number defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer says is closer to his expectations.

“It’s right on our goal,” he said of Baylor’s 7-of-18 third-down conversion success. “I’m pleased, but then I’m not pleased with the ones we gave up. I thought they did good.”

OSU’s defense allowing a 38.8 percent conversion rate on third-down is its third-best effort this season behind the South Alabama and Pitt games, but it’s an encouraging sign for a defense which has struggled in that area.

3. James Washington had himself a day

How ’bout The President? James Washington continues to exceed even the loftiest of expectations thrust upon him, and Saturday his otherworldly efficiency was other-galaxy. He finished with 6 receptions, 235 yards receiving and a rushing and passing TD.


Those numbers are absurd. And had he not fumbled a deep ball reception or had Rudolph not underthrown him a few times on deep balls, he could’ve easily mounted a 300-yard day. It was a bounceback from the last time OSU played in Boone Pickens Stadium, which gives No. 28 confidence moving into the heart of the Big 12 schedule.

“Today gives us a little bit more confidence in my eyes, but at the same time, we have to keep guys healthy and out of trouble and just keep moving forward,” he said.

Washington’s 235 yards marks his third career game with at least 200, tying a school record with … Rashaun Woods.

Take a bow, sir. What a talent.

4. OSU limited penalties, but Gundy wants less

Unless you play a 100 percent clean game (which, yeah right), no coach will be happy if their team committed penalties. But on the whole, OSU cleaned up its act after a mistake-laden trip to Lubbock two weeks ago. The Cowboys finished with just 5 penalties for 40 yards.

“We have to improve in decision-making and fielding the ball on special teams, we have  to eliminate 15-yard penalties when we play these teams in order to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Gundy. “We’ve just got to get it cleaned up.”

5. Red zone woes fixed?

In Lubbock two weeks ago, Oklahoma State struggled when it landed inside the red zone to convert touchdowns. That led to a double-boinker night from kicker Matt Ammendola, and a frustrated fan base seeking answers as to why the most explosive offense could only manage a 50 percent touchdown rate inside the 20.

And while Baylor might not be the best measuring stick of success, Oklahoma State executed well from the 20 and in, converting four of four red zone trips into touchdowns. Considering the Bears entered Saturday allowing a measly 42.1 percent red zone conversion rate, which ranked 18th in FBS, that’s an encouraging sign that some of those woes have been addressed.

How did they do it, you ask? We saw OSU run some misdirection, we saw James Washington motion in and out of the backfield, we saw hard-nosed running back J.D. King, and we even saw Justice Hill lining up in the Wildcat formation.

Against a vaunted Texas front and improving secondary next weekend, those red zone successes must carry south of the state line if the Pokes want to come back with a win. But overall, there’s no major dings on either side of the ball other than some minor fixes.

It’s a challenge Mason Rudolph says he’s ready to embrace.

“It’s a one-game season every week and that’s all that you can focus on,” said Rudolph. “We’re excited about going down to Texas. They’re a great team and they have a good defense, so we’ll start game-planning for them tomorrow.”

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