AMES, Iowa — There’s a moment shortly after Peter Weller transforms into the title character in the 1987 film "RoboCop" that showcases the scope of his new capabilities.
Roughly a dozen police officers are practicing at an indoor shooting range, but suddenly stop. All of them hear Weller’s character handling a high-tech weapon.
The newly made RoboCop blasts his target with ultimate precision, much to the delight of his creator.
“This guy is really good,” one cop says. “He’s not a guy, he’s a machine,” another quips.
That’s the way Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell views Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. No. 24 ISU (6-3, 4-2) hosts No. 12 Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday at 11 a.m. (ABC/ESPN2).
“He looks like a robot,” Campbell said. “He’s like the robo-quarterback a little bit of how he looks. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s physical.
“He’s just one of those guys that what he does and how he throws his deep ball is as good as anybody I’ve seen consistently throw the deep ball. It is fascinating to me. He is a really special player.”
Perhaps no game showcased Rudolph’s abilities better than his last outing against Oklahoma. The 6-foot-5 and 230-pound senior was 28 of 54 passing for 448 yards with five touchdowns against two interceptions. His longest ball was a 60-yard completion.
Rudolph, who has started regularly since his true sophomore season, has led the Cowboys to rank second nationally in yards per game (579), third in passing yards per game (379.2) and second in points per game (45.3). He has a 63.3 percent completion rate.
“He’s something else,” ISU defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “He’s very dangerous. It’s interesting, in some critical situations he carries the football. He can throw the long ball; he can throw it intermediately. There’s really not a throw on the field he can’t make.
“I would guess, I don’t know, but he surely looks like he has the abilities to check plays, call plays, do what he needs to do to get them in the right play. Those guys are having great success with it.”
Rudolph is the national leader in passing yards and has a top-five quarterback rating, but the OSU offense is more than just him.
Running back Justice Hill averages 118.2 yards per game on the ground and has a 41.3-inch vertical leap. Wide receiver James Washington, who has dealt with recent injuries, is averaging 125.9 receiving yards per game and is second in career receiving yards in OSU history. The smallest starting offensive linemen are 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds.
Campbell spoke to the elite speed of TCU the week leading into ISU’s matchup with them. This time, the conversation centered on “elite size.”
“This is maybe the most complete offense we’ve played to date,” Campbell said. “Everywhere you look, they’re big, they’re strong and they’re physical. That’s the thing that’s just really impressive.
“What do you stop? That becomes the great challenge that everybody has had to face against this football team.”
ISU has found ways to stop — or at least slow — most everybody this season. The Cyclones own the second-best Big 12 scoring defense in conference games (14.7 points) and have held all six league opponents at least 10 points under their season-scoring average.
ISU has allowed just 24 points after halftime combined in its six Big 12 games. Oklahoma State has scored a combined 112 points after halftime of league games. It’s another challenge for an ISU defense that has turned out to be the team’s bright spot.
“We’re just going to have to do a great job of being sound everywhere,” Heacock said. “That’s not always easy, and that’s kind of been the issue with the teams they’ve played. You’ve just got to keep hanging in there and keep playing.”