Several broadcasters are picking Oklahoma State to win its opener Saturday night at Georgia, although the host Bulldogs are a 61/2-point favorite. Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, who will call the game for ESPN2, and ESPN host Rece Davis are expecting the Cowboys will have a strong showing.
In a phone call with Davie, he said he is impressed with the Cowboys. “This is definitely a winnable game for Oklahoma State. I think the fact that they beat Nebraska last year and they beat Alabama in the bowl game helped them gain some credibility in my eyes. They have some talented guys at the skilled positions. I think they’re set up as well as you could be because of the scheme they use. They use a lot of no-huddle. There are a lot of signals at the line of scrimmage. Really the reason (offensive coordinator) Larry Fedora is in that offense is because of the experience in the SEC when he was at Florida. When you play on the road in that league, there is no chance of verbalizing or changing a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. They’re set up with the no-huddle because a lot of it is on a signal basis, which helps them. I think (quarterback) Bobby Reid has played in a lot of big games. He won the state championship in high school at Houston. I think they are set up to handle playing at a place like Georgia because of their scheme and because of their experience at quarterback. Georgia is young on defense — really young.
“I’ve been around (new OSU defensive coordinator) Tim Beckman a lot. He’s doing what a lot of coaches do when they first come in. He’s trying to make the players accountable. He did a lot of team unity things in the off-season. The key is to get into Texas and recruit some defensive linemen. All that stuff is great, but the reality is a lot of other people in the country are doing the same thing when it comes to that. They need some defensive linemen. They really do. They are more talented on offense than they are on defense. You look at Georgia who you think would want to run the football because Oklahoma State is so young and vulnerable up front, but Georgia is brand new. They have four new linemen on offense. So I think Oklahoma State really matches up well.
In a conference call this week, Davis called OSU his sleeper team in the nation.
“I think that some of their strengths, namely explosive an offense in Adarius Bowman on the outside, plays very well against some of Georgia’s question marks with their off-season loss to Paul Oliver to an academic situation. I think that offense is difficult to contain under any circumstances, and now you’re asking a Georgia offense with question marks on the offensive line to make sure that they outscore them. I don’t know if I’m willing to say that Oklahoma State is good enough to walk in between the hedges and beat them. But I do think that one of the games that I have circled as a potential upset. I don’t think they are as good as Oklahoma and Texas, but I think they can take a step up in their tier of bowl games.
”ESPN’s “College GameDay analyst” Kirk Herbstreit is picking Georgia — partially because so many experts have jumped on OSU’s bandwagon.
“I think Oklahoma State is a classic example of a team utilizing a victory in the Independence Bowl over Alabama as a springboard into their off-season, where they have the bulk of their team coming back.” Herbstreit said. “I don’t think they are going to walk into that Georgia game thinking ‘Can we really win this?’ Because of what they did against Alabama and because so many of the guys are coming back, they probably will think they can play. They scored 35 points a game last year with everbody back.
“If everybody in the world would quit picking them, they would be a fun pick this weekend. But because the whole world is picking them, I’m picking Georgia. Seems like to me we don’t have a lot of marquis games this opening weekend. I think they are going to take a step up. I just wish one of them would go to the Big 12 North so we could kind of balance it out.”