September 29, 2015

Even though he's been very productive early in his career, sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph has to start playing better when it matters most for Oklahoma State.

After splitting the duties late again last week, Rudolph looks to clean up some mistakes Saturday when the 20th-ranked Cowboys host fellow unbeaten Kansas State.

Rudolph is expected to be ready to go despite enduring some big hits in last Saturday's dramatic 30-27 road win over Texas. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 290 yards with one touchdown but had two interceptions and a fumble. He threw incompletions on five of his final six attempts, though the Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) won on a late field goal following a Longhorns turnover.

Rudolph ranks ninth in the nation with 9.98 passing yards per attempt, 10th with 1,237 yards and 19th with a 162.7 quarterback rating. But he gave way to backup J.W. Walsh at times during the fourth quarter after throwing picks on back-to-back possessions.

Walsh, a senior who has appeared in each of the past three games, threw a touchdown pass and ran the ball four times for 27 yards and a score. Rudolph totaled minus-32 yards rushing and was sacked three times.

"(Rudolph is) a guy who has a lot of confidence in himself," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. "He's a guys who bounces back and has a short memory. He learns from his mistakes. I have tremendous confidence in him and his ability."

Yurcich would like to help Rudolph by getting the ground game going as Oklahoma State goes after its third 5-0 start since 2008. The program only had seven such starts in 103 seasons before coach Mike Gundy took over in 2005.

Leading rusher Chris Carson was limited to 39 yards on 12 carries while dealing with an ankle injury, though the freshman insisted on Twitter this week that he's "good" to go.

Kansas State (3-0, 0-0) had limited South Dakota and Texas-San Antonio to 1.6 yards per carry in blowout wins before letting Louisiana Tech run for 137 yards on 38 attempts and needing three overtimes to win 39-33 at home Sept. 19.

Joe Hubener connected on a 31-yard pass to Kody Cook for the winner, his third TD pass of the day after having one through his first two games. In his first season as the starting quarterback, Hubener has thrown for 585 yards without an interception.

"I definitely think (the offense) is progressing," the junior said. "There are always new things that we have to learn from, but that is the way it is going to be with any offense and any team."

The Wildcats, coming off a bye week, are averaging 34.3 points as their Big 12 slate begins on the road against the conference's top-ranked defense. Oklahoma State is allowing 299.8 yards per game and has excelled against the pass, holding its last three opponents to an average of 139.0 yards while collecting 12 sacks - seven against Texas.

Emmanuel Ogbah was named Big 12 defensive player of the week after finishing with six tackles, two sacks and 2 1/2 tackles for loss against the Longhorns. The 2014 Big 12 defensive lineman of the year has recorded at least one sack in 10 of the last 12 games.

Gundy's squad has given up more than 170 rushing yards in each of the last two but held those run-based offenses to 3.7 per carry.

Kansas State also relies on the run, with more than 40 attempts and 160 rushing yards in each game. Freshman Justin Silmon leads the Wildcats with 205 yards after finishing with a season-high 114 on 24 carries against Louisiana Tech. Hubener, second on the team with 105 yards, only had nine on eight carries but had 58 and a score on 17 attempts in a 30-3 win at UTSA the previous week.

"It doesn't matter who is there, they're not going to change," Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "They're going to give you great issues with stopping the quarterback in the run game. They do run-pass options all the time."

The Cowboys lost last year's meeting 48-14 and have won the last four in Stillwater by an average of 4.3 points. They've won 40 of 42 there against unranked opponents.

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