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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Point Spread - Pick

Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 12PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: OKST +14/PITT -14
Over/Under Total: 65

The Oklahoma State Cowboys come to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Panthers in big Saturday week 3 action. Oklahoma State has looked good in winning their first two games, while covering the spread both times. On Friday, they went into Mobile to beat the South Alabama Jaguars, 44-7. That followed a week one win over Tulsa and Pittsburgh should provide a more-reliable sign of where the Cowboys really stand. Pittsburgh came up short to the 4th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, 33-14. They hope for better results at home this week.

Oklahoma State looks pretty dangerous. They have a top property at quarterback in senior Mason Rudolph, who became the all-time leading passer for Oklahoma St. with Friday's win over USA with 335 yards. At the beginning of the season, most agreed that the Cowboys had top talent on offense, but that they'd end up being one of those typical Big 12 teams that get in or near the top ten—all offense and no defense. And when those teams play more-complete teams outside the conference, they usually meet their match. But we can't be so sure after seeing the Cowboys' "D" the first two weeks. Granted, the offenses of Tulsa and South Alabama are not top-notch, but first signs are not half-bad.

Rudolph has a pretty good set of tools at his disposal. First is one of the best receivers in the nation in James Washington. In the first two games, Washington and Rudolph have already hooked up for a handful of long connections. Marcel Ateman also caught two touchdowns and is about as dangerous a number-two receiver as you would want to see. Tyron Johnson and Chris Lacy have also been chiming in with catches. Justice Hill is the go-to running back, but J.D. King has been big, as well. Making it all come together is an experienced line that has looked good through two weeks. Again, we'll know more as the opposition gets better.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says this defense is the fastest and most-athletic he's fielded in his long tenure at Oklahoma State. That might not be saying a lot considering some of the Cowboys' defenses we've seen in recent seasons, but again, first signs aren't bad. They're at least making an impact, having scored in each of their first two games. LB Justin Phillips was big with an interception return for a TD on Friday. Also in the middle, Chad Whitener always seems to be around the ball and Kirk Tucker had a sack last week. Up-front, there was additional disruption with Jordan Brailford and DeQuinton Osborne registering sacks. There's some youngsters in the front-seven and their real effectiveness will now get tested with the better offenses they face. With Trey Flowers and Ramon Richards, along with AJ Green and Madre Harper, the secondary is strong. They're a "D" that is likely to give up yards and points, but they make up for it by making clutch plays, winning the turnover battle, and keeping damage to a relative minimum as far as point-scoring goes.

Going into Penn State to face one of the best teams in the nation was maybe asking to much of the Panthers, even if they did manage to beat the Nittany Lions last season. They never seemed to be in the game and while the defense was resilient in spots, the offense seemed stuck in the mud. Behind center is former USC quarterback and grad transfer Max Browne. Under his stewardship, the offense was sometimes random and not well thought-out. The line at times looked a little disorganized.


With James Conner having departed, the Pitt run-game falls into the hands of Qadree Ollison, who was by far the Panthers' best player on offense on Saturday. Having filled in for a hurt Conner last season, he has a lot of experience and can really make plays. Aerially, Browne connected with Jester Weah and Rafael Araujo-Lopes, but Quadree Henderson was strangely quiet. Two picks by Browne didn't really help matters. The offense possessed the ball a lot on Saturday and just couldn't really make much happen. But at home and against a more-negotiable defense, we could see a better version of this group this week.

The Pittsburgh defense lost a lot over the offseason. But despite being hung out to dry at times by the offense, they showed some promise, even in the loss to Penn State. They have experience at corner with Avonte Maddox, but not having SS Jordan Whitehead for another week hurts. Otherwise, a lot of youngsters will be relied on to do most of the heavy lifting for the Pittsburgh defense. And if Oklahoma State's first two games are any indication, they will be pushed to the full limits of what they can withstand. They have a trickiness to them, changing formations and going from man-to-man to zone as the ball is snapped. They'll need all the trickery they can summon this week.

Pittsburgh can be a tricky team to figure out. And when a team loses to a top-ranked opponent, it can paint a picture that is maybe too negative for the purposes of handicapping their next game. In other words, don't be surprised if Pittsburgh looks appreciably better this week at home against an opponent in the Cowboys who aren't as complete a team as Penn State.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm taking the Pittsburgh Panthers plus 14 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Cowboys vs. Panthers game from home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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