Pittsburgh Panthers at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Saturday, September 17, 2016, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Boone Pickens Stadium – Stillwater, Oklahoma
Opening Line: Oklahoma State -6 1/2
Current Line: Oklahoma State -3 (-125)
Opening Total: 61 1/2
Current Total: 59 1/2
Opening Money Line: OSU -230 / Pitt +190
Current Money Line: OSU -175 / Pitt +155
The Oklahoma State Cowboys were shocked at home last week by Central Michigan after the Chippewas were given an untimed down when the Cowboys were called for intentional grounding with four seconds left in the game. CMU would take advantage with a hook and lateral play to win the game 30-27. The play shouldn’t have counted as the rules say that the game can’t be extended on an offensive foul resulting on a loss of down. However, the bottom line is Oklahoma State put themselves in position to lose that game with their poor play on both sides of the ball.
After the controversy, it doesn’t get any easier for the Cowboys as they host a good Pittsburgh team Saturday. Oklahoma State is 1-1 under coach Mike Gundy. Pittsburgh enters the contest at 2-0 under coach Pat Narduzzi. This is the first ever meeting between the schools. Oklahoma State will make the return trip to the Steel City next year to complete the home and home.
Pittsburgh has home wins over in-state rivals Villanova 28-7 and Penn State 42-39. Against Penn State, Pitt led 35-21 going into the fourth, but the Nittany Lions pulled to within three points with five minutes left. A Penn State interception with 1:15 left ended any hopes of a rally as the Panthers improved to 2-0. Pitt was a 3.5 point favorite and the total was 44. The Panthers are 0-2 ATS and the total is 1-1 this season.
Oklahoma State opened the season with a 61-7 win over SE Louisiana before the loss last week to Central Michigan. The Cowboys are 1-1 ATS and the total is 1-1 this season. OSU was a 17.5 point favorite against CMU and the total was 58.5.
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Pittsburgh is out scoring teams 35-23 this season. The Panthers average 347 yards per game including 214 rushing yards and 133 passing yards. On defense, Pitt is allowing 289 yards per game including 225 passing and 64 rushing yards. The Panthers are +3 in turnovers with 6 takeaways. Pitt averages 60 penalty yards per game and opponents average 45 per game. The Panthers are 10/27 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 7/29. Pittsburgh has forced 10 sacks and allowed 1 this season. The Panthers are 9/10 scoring in the red zone with 9 touchdowns and opponents are 5/5 with 4 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman has thrown for 266 yards with 5 touchdowns and an interception, and rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries.
Running back James Conner has been one of the best stories in college football this year. In 2014, he was the ACC player of the year when her rushed for 1,765 yards and scored 26 touchdowns. Last season he tore his ACL earlier in the season. When he wasn’t feeling well a few weeks later, he went to the doctor and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was declared cancer free in May. Conner has rushed for 170 yards on 39 carries with 2 touchdowns, and has 7 catches for 45 yards and 2 touchdowns. Qadree Ollison, Quadree Henderson and Darrin Hall will also get some carries. Fullback George Aston has 2 touchdowns but is questionable for undisclosed reasons.
Tight end Scott Orndorff has 9 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Henderson has 7 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Dontez Ford is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Receiver Zach Challingsworth is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Three defensive players are also questionable.
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Oklahoma State is outscoring teams 44-19 this season. The Cowboys average 368 yards per game on offense including 271 passing and 97 rushing yards per game. On defense, OSU is allowing 311 yards per game including 237 yards and 74 rushing yards. The Cowboys are +4 in turnovers with 6 takeaways. Oklahoma State averages 48 penalty yards per game and opponents average 54 per game. The Cowboys have converted 8/25 on third and fourth downs and opponents are 9/30. OSU has forced 6 sacks and allowed 7 this season. The Cowboys are 10/12 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns, and opponents are 3/4 with 2 touchdowns.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph has thrown for 477 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. Back-up Taylor Cornelius took a few snaps in the blowout of SE Louisiana and has a rushing touchdown.
While the rushing game has improved somewhat from a dismal 2015, it is still a little too inconsistent. It is a running back by committee approach as Justice Hill and Chris Carson each have 12 carries. Jeff Carr, Rennie Childs, and Barry J. Sanders will also get some carries.
Receiver Jalen McCleskey has 15 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. James Washington has 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Jhajuan Seales has 6 catches for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Marcell Ateman is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS against Big 12 teams, 6-2 on the road, 2-6 in September, 1-4 after an ATS loss, after a straight up win, and after allowing more than 280 yards, 1-5 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 1-7 after passing for less than 170 yards, 0-4 in non-conference games and overall.
Oklahoma State is 11-2 ATS after rushing for less than 100 yards, 3-8 after an ATS loss, 2-6 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 2-8 after a straight up loss, 1-4 after passing for 280 yards or more, and on fieldturf, 1-5 overall and 0-4 against teams with winning records.
The Cowboys looked bad against Central Michigan last week but this team has a lot of talent. Pittsburgh could be a sleeper in the ACC and is picked by some to win the Coastal Division. Still I like OSU to get back on track with a close win in a low scoring game.