Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State
Saturday, 12:30 pm PT - ESPN
CRIS Opener: Oklahoma State -6.5 O/U 61.5
CRIS Current: Oklahoma State -6 O/U 59
Recommendation: Oklahoma State
Opposite game ending reactions for these teams last week as Pitt was in jubilant mood after defeating Penn State while Oklahoma State was in complete disbelief as a 27-24 victory celebration turned into an unbelievable 30-27 loss. Heading into this contest the most important question is which team will able to erase Saturday’s results and fully focus on their weekly preparation.
Pittsburgh placed extreme emphasis on last week’s game as head coach Pat Narduzzi drilled into his coaching staff and team that they were going to treat the Penn State game as a rivalry. The Panthers came out of the chute fired up and they were up 28-7 just over three minutes into the second quarter. From there, Penn State outscored Pitt 32-14 the rest of the way and had the ball in field goal range with a chance to tie but an interception sealed the deal.
Offensive balance has been problematic for the Panthers who have been ultra-reliant on their ground attack which has produced 214 yards per game. Despite only recording 266 total passing yards thus far (ranks 105th nationally) Pittsburgh has been able to win each of its two contests. That pedestrian style may not get them past Oklahoma State which has been terrific against the run ranking 22nd nationally. Last week the Cowboys yielded only 84 true rushing yards on 3.2 per carry to Central Michigan which possesses a strong ground attack. Further hindering Pittsburgh fundamentally in this matchup could be its pass defense which was lit up and perhaps exposed by Penn State. In come-from-behind-mode from the early second quarter on, PSU shredded Pitt to the tune of 332 yards and 13.7 yards per completion. All of that was done by a Nittany Lions attack which is in just its second game of new OC Joe Moorhead’s system. Oklahoma State has an array of weaponry in their established system led by quarterback Mason Rudolph and they’re far more potent than Penn State.
This situation also sets up nicely for Oklahoma State which catches Pitt having to travel for the first time this season and off of an all-out effort. Meanwhile the Cowboys get to stay at home for the third consecutive week and they figure to be a determined, redemption seeking team. My power ratings suggest Oklahoma State should be -11.5 rather than the current -6.5 which is another signal toward the Cowboys side. Positive indicators in the fundamentals, situationals and power ratings all lead toward a play on Oklahoma State.