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Weekly Kickoff: Previewing Oklahoma State

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An early look at the Panthers’ next opponent

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Oklahoma State Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

So far, so good, right?

Two games in to the season, the Panthers are still perfect with a big win over Penn State this past weekend. As great as that victory was, though, Pitt needs to move on and continue their work for this season.

Next up for the club is a tough matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road.

The good news? Pitt has been generally prepared for road games under head coach Pat Narduzzi and was very good away from Heinz Field last year. In 2015, Pitt went 5-1 on the road, losing only to Iowa, which was ultimately a top ten team. It will be a new environment for Pitt but the Panthers didn’t back down in a night road game at Iowa and hopefully won’t be intimidated.

One thing a lot of fans didn’t like seeing was Oklahoma State losing to Central Michigan on Saturday. Not only did that knock the Cowboys out of the rankings, but, well, it also probably just made the team a bit angry and focused heading into this week. ICYMI, Oklahoma State lost about as terribly as you can, falling after a Hail Mary play and subsequent lateral that went for a touchdown on the final play of the game. Even worse for the Cowboys was that Central Michigan had the chance to run that play when the game should have actually ended prior to it happening.

Yikes.

To say that Oklahoma State will be motivated is an understatement.

Aside from the Central Michigan debacle, the Cowboys’ other game resulted in a 61-7 beatdown of Southeastern Louisiana.

On offense, Oklahoma State has excelled in airing it out instead of running the ball. The running backs are averaging only 3.0 yards per carry and through two games, the leading rusher freshman Justice Hill, has a grand total of 61 yards. The Cowboys have mostly run the ball by committee and a total of five backs have registered carries. One of those is a name you might have heard before - Barry Sanders, Jr., a graduate transfer from Stanford.

Passing the ball is where the Cowboys have done their damage so Pitt’s secondary will be tested. Junior quarterback Mason Rudolph is at the helm there and he has 477 yards on the season with four touchdowns against only one interception. His prime targets are Jalen McCleskey and James Washington, who have combined for 25 receptions and 233 yards. Jhajuan Seales also checks in with six grabs for 95 yards and a team-high two receiving touchdowns.

Defensively, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Cowboys. They gave up only seven points in their debut and have looked very good against the run. But they were also torched by Central Michigan through the air on Saturday, allowing 361 passing yards and four passing scores.

We’ve wanted to see what Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman can do and this may be the game that we find out. If the Panthers find running the ball a little difficult, Pitt will have to look to Peterman and challenge that secondary, which struggled last week.

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