No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs (0-0) at No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (0-0)
Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday, September 5th 3:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Oklahoma State -6
The No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys get the luxury of hosting the no. 13 Georgia Bulldogs in one of the biggest games of college football’s opening weekend this Saturday. The match-up will dictate another clash between the SEC and the Big 12 who have experienced an increasing rivalry over the past few years. Like other SEC vs. Big 12 battles, it will be the high power offense from the Big 12 wrestling with one of best defenses in America out of the SEC.
The Cowboys are on many experts’ radars as a breakout team in 2009, but those anticipations could see a big letdown if they take the Bulldogs lightly. Georgia has flown under the radar this season considering they entered as the nations number 1 team a year ago at this time.
The Bulldogs lost some huge playmakers in the NFL Draft’s number 1 and 12 picks Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. However, the Bulldogs reload with some of the best young talent in the country and it will be very interesting to see just how dangerous they can be in 2009.
Surprisingly, the best offense in the Big 12 this season may not be Texas or Oklahoma. The reason is because there is no other roster in America as frightening as the Cowboys offensive lineup. QB Zac Robinson, WR Dez Bryant, and RB Kendall Hunter provide the biggest trio of explosion the America that is sure to drive defenses insane.
Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards in a breakout sophomore campaign to go along with 16 touchdowns on the ground. Hunter provides one of the quickest steps out of any running back in the country and speed to break games wide open.
If Hunter’s threat is not enough alone, the arm of Zac Robinson should add fuel to the fire. Robinson threw for 3,000 plus yards last year while maintaining a 65 percent completion rate.
Robinson’s found faith in throwing the ball in the direction of one of the country’s best wide outs, Dez Bryant. Bryant racked up 1,408 yards (NCAA 2nd best) and a ridiculous 19 touchdowns in the team’s dangerous air assault. These 3 electrifying playmakers provided tons of excitement last year and it’s scary to think they could be even better this season.
One may think that after losing players like Stafford and Moreno, the Bulldogs would be rebuilding for the next 1 to 2 years, at the very least. However, if you keep up with recruiting rest assured Georgia has as many talented young players as Southern Cal or Florida.
The Bulldogs will reload with a solid quarterback in Joe Cox and tons of talent to take over in the backfield. Expect Richard Samuel to take the most touches and Carlton Thomas should also get plenty of carries as well at the tailback position.
The running game could be every bit as effective as they were with Moreno at the helm. However, that is not to say that the offense “in general” may still take a step back, but don’t expect the Bulldogs to lack any playmakers. The big positive heading into 2009 rests on the defensive side of the ball.
The Bulldogs will return 9 starters from a team that ranked 22nd overall last year. The Georgia secondary appears to be the strength this season and they may face no bigger test this year than the Cowboys offense. Georgia has not gotten much attention from the media throughout the off-season, but don’t let that fool you.
Online Bookies have opened the betting line favoring the Cowboys by 6 points over the Bulldogs. However, 60% of the early betting action is favoring Georgia ATS. The over/under has been set at a lofty 61.5 points, but the game total could very easily reach those numbers if both offenses have success.
One thing the Cowboys need to improve on is their scoring defense that allowed 28 points per game last year. Of course, that same defense had to go against some of the very best offenses in America week in and week out, so the numbers don’t really tell the whole story. CB Perrish Cox could really help things in the secondary. Cox who is also a dangerous kick returner is developing into a big-time cornerback. Cox is also the lone man back from last year’s secondary that gave up 267 yards per game through the air.
While the secondary will be tested in Saturday’s match it also will face even bigger challenges down the road. The more important aspect of the Cowboys defense will be up front. Oklahoma State allowed 137 yards per game on the ground last season. Even less impressive was the pressure they put on opposing quarterbacks that resulted in just 15 sacks all season. The Cowboys will go head to head with a very strong offensive line Saturday. If Georgia is to win the game, it will likely be because they control the trenches.
The Bulldogs defense is a solid group that has tons of speed and quickness. Expect them to put pressure on quarterback Zac Robinson, but what they will need is to force turnovers. Georgia will need to keep the Oklahoma State offense off the field as much as possible. Whether that means forcing turnovers or establishing a strong running game, it will be key to success.
Popular perception is that the Bulldogs could struggle in the passing attack with the loss of Stafford, but that may not be the case. Cox is a 5th year senior and knows how the system works. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to have a slouch at quarterback, because Cox can get the job done. Georgia’s biggest test will likely be on defense because you can predict them to put up their share of points barring any opening game disasters. The question is will the SEC defense prevail over another Big 12 offense?
Jay’s Pick – Not this time, the Cowboys offense will be too strong outta the gate. Take Oklahoma State -6.