Georiga-Ok. St. Odds
Heading into their 2009 opener Saturday, the ninth-ranked Cowboys will see how much they've progressed as they welcome the No. 13 Bulldogs to Stillwater.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTBETTING.com have made Oklahoma State -2.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Oklahoma State -5.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Two years ago, unranked Oklahoma State traveled to face then-No. 13 Georgia and was outscored 14-0 in the second half en route to a 35-14 defeat.
Since then, Gundy's club has gone 16-9, including seven straight wins to start last season highlighted by a 28-23 victory over then-No. 3 Missouri. But following a win over Baylor, the Cowboys lost four of their final six - all to ranked foes - by a combined 71 points.
After jumping out to a 17-7 first-quarter lead over Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, Oklahoma State fell 42-31.
Despite the late-season stumble, the Cowboys come into 2009 with the highest preseason ranking in school history. Gundy said it's time his team begins living up to those lofty expectations.
"We've played some pretty good football teams in the last couple of years since then and either beat 'em or stood toe-to-toe and fought 'til the end," he said.
"Standing toe-to-toe and fighting to the end is not what we're looking for."
To try and get the job done, Gundy has one of the most potent offenses in college football. Led by quarterback Zac Robinson, tailback Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State was ninth in the country in scoring last year, averaging 40.8 points.
Robinson threw 25 touchdown passes and Hunter ran for 1,626 yards and 16 TDs, but Bryant is perhaps the Cowboys' most electrifying player since Barry Sanders in the 1980s. As a sophomore in 2008, he caught 87 passes - including 19 touchdowns - for 1,480 yards. He also averaged nearly 18 yards per punt return, finding the end zone twice.
Like Gundy, Bryant is expecting his team to accomplish more.
"We're not where we want to be, as far as just getting to a bowl game," said Bryant, who is healthy again after undergoing surgery shortly after the Holiday Bowl. "We don't just want to be at any bowl game. We want to be in a BCS bowl game."
Georgia probably had a BCS bowl berth in mind last year when it was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll for the first time in school history with quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno leading the offense.
However, the Bulldogs were overwhelmed by Alabama in the opener and split six games against ranked teams in a 10-3 season that ended with a win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.
Though back in the Top 25, this season could be seen as a rebuilding one for Mark Richt's club as Stafford was selected first overall in the NFL draft by Detroit and Moreno was taken 12th by Denver.
Fifth-year senior Joe Cox will now be under center for Georgia. As a freshman in 2006, Cox came off the bench with the Bulldogs trailing Colorado 13-0 and led them to a 14-13 win with a touchdown pass in the final minute.
He made the only start of his career later that year in a win over Mississippi, and Richt has confidence in him.
"We lost Stafford. That's a big deal, there's no doubt about that," said Richt, 34-3 against teams outside the SEC. "But I think there's a peace around the program knowing Joe is at the helm right now because of his leadership, his knowledge of the system, his ability to play the game."
Cox's top target will be sophomore A.J. Green, who led the SEC with 56 catches and was tied for the conference lead with eight scores.
To replace Moreno, who topped the SEC with 1,463 yards and was second with 16 touchdowns in 2008, the Bulldogs likely will go with Richard Samuel.
Samuel averaged 5.1 yards per carry in a limited role in 2008, but Richt is expecting bigger things from the sophomore this season.
"Richard is playing with a lot of energy, good stamina, and he goes hard," he said of the 6-foot-2, 218-pound running back. "We hope as the game goes on, he gets stronger and can blaze a trail. When other guys start to fatigue, he looks even faster."
Richt could opt for a change of pace in the backfield with another sophomore in 5-7, 170-pound Carlton Thomas.
Georgia is opening against a top-10 opponent for the first time since a 17-all tie with then-No. 9 Tennessee in 1967. The Bulldogs are 2-1 against the Cowboys and are playing in Stillwater for the first time since a 20-7 win over Oklahoma A&M in 1947.
Oklahoma State has won 15 straight non-conference games at Boone Pickens Stadium and nine in a row under Gundy.
All games in this series since 1992
GEORGIA is 1-0 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA ST since 1992
GEORGIA is 1-0 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA is 1-0 against the spread versus OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA is 1-0 straight up against OKLAHOMA ST over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
No significant injuries.
No significant injuries.
Posted: 9/1/09 1:18PM ET