POSTED ON AUGUST 26, 2009:
OSU must beat Georgia in first game for respectable season
The hype machine is working overtime. The vibe echoing down the turnpike from Stillwater points to a season for the ages: The year of the Cowboys. Let's shine the crystal ball and hand it to Head Coach Mike Gundy. The best team Boone Pickens can buy.
For Poke fans, the weeks leading up to the showdown with Georgia must feel like Christmas Eve. The September 5th matchup against the Bulldogs from the SEC marks the start of a championship run.
Call me crazy, but I'm taking a wait and see approach. If we lived in Missouri I might even ask the team to "Show Me."
We have heard the hyperbole before but never to this extent. Some of the buildup is justified. Oklahoma State is returning their version of the triplets. Quarterback Zac Robinson, receiver Dez Bryant and running back Kendall Hunter make up the potent Cowboys attack.
Robinson is one of 38 quarterbacks listed for the Manning Award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the nation. He was a finalist for the award in 2008.
The Maxwell Award is given to the outstanding player in college football. Robinson, Bryant and Hunter all made the preseason list.
A Web site with which I am not familiar named OSU as the nation's top offense. Again, these are all preseason accolades. The notoriety is nice but what does it mean?
It means Gundy did a bang-up job in the offseason. He made the PR rounds and touted the team's greatness at every turn -- as he should.
The truth is this is the same squad that earned a 9-4 record a year ago. In 2007 they barely finished above the .500 mark. Each of those seasons started with high expectations.
If we believe what we've been spoon fed by our more traditional media counterparts then the difference this year is the defense.
Defensive coach Bill Young was brought in to right the ship. A leaky unit in the past placed a ton of pressure on the offense. Can he patch things up?
There is no denying the talent on the defensive side of the ball. However, can the group learn a new defensive scheme and master it before a televised clash with a hungry Georgia Bulldogs team?
Intelligent football fans agree: The current BCS format used to decide the title game is light years ahead of the AP/Coaches poll "biased votes" of the past.
Considering the ramifications of each game, the playoff bracket starts on September 5 for OSU. Not a bad first round matchup right?
The onus in on the coaches and players to survive the first round eleminator. Enough talk, enough hype, enough media games... errr... gag orders. Win the game and move on.
Three cupcakes waltz into the house that T. Boone built after the Georgia game. Two C-USAers followed by one tough Grambling State team visit Stillwater. That is right. Four home tilts to start the season. Those record number of season ticket holders will enjoy these nailbiters. Nice.
It's as if they hand picked the schedule. Yes, I realize in a roundabout way they did. But of all years, the home and away games set up perfectly for "The Greatest Season in OSU History."
The only true road test comes via the November 28 Bedlam bout. Missouri, Texas and Texas Tech all visit the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium.
And for what it's worth, OSU tickets are selling faster than cars for clunkers.
"Sales continue to be strong for both, the general public and the student body," said Tom Johnson, OSU's Director of Ticket Operations. "It is quite an accomplishment, and a testament to our fan base, to have record sales during turbulent economic times. Many schools across the country are seeing declines in their sales numbers."
I know what Poke fans are thinking. I drive around with an OU flag flapping in the wind. Trust me, that is not the case.
To be honest with you, I'd love to see OSU win every game and be in title contention.
You know why? Not because I am a huge OSU fan or think Gundy is the greatest head coach in the modern era that ignores his defense. No. It is because life as a sports writer in Oklahoma would be much easier.
The bottom line is simple. Everything you need to know about the championship aspirations of the OK State Cowboys will be decided on the field in due time. The game against Georgia is monumental in the development of the program.
OSU cannot simply win. They must win impressively. This is a rebuilding Georgia team. They will trot out an untested quarterback as well as a new running back. A loss to the Bulldogs would be catastrophic (in college football terms).
Imagine how much pressure the coaching staff will feel prior to the scheduled 2:30 kickoff. If they sleep a collective eights hours on Friday night, I'd be surprised.
It's now or never for the Stillwaterians. This is their time. Can they take the college football season by storm or be reduced to the Dallas Cowboys of college football.
All sparkle, no spirit.
Tiger Woods captured three in a row. Jack Nicklaus launched his career with a victory in 1959. Consider this your opportunity to see a great one before they achieve greatness.
Tulsa's Southern Hills golf course hosts the U.S. Amateur golf tournament this week. While not quite as prestigious as a PGA Championship, it is still reputable.
Check out www.usamateur.org for ticket information and times. The tickets are reasonably priced and it is a fantastic way to walk a world famous course without having to fork over the membership fee.
The winner will be crowned Sunday.
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