OSU-Georgia Matchups & Prediction

GoPokes.com's Robert Allen breaks down Saturday's season opener against Georgia and gives his thoughts on the three key matchups in the game.

Three Most Dangerous Bulldogs
1. Matt Stafford, QB
2. Brandon Coutu, K
3. Kelin Johnson, SS (tie)
Jeff Owens, DT

Three Most Important Matchups
1. OSU Defensive Line vs. UGA Offensive Line
This one is obvious. Georgia loves to run the football and has three talented and different style running backs. They also have a young quarterback with a cannon of an arm in Matt Stafford. When Georgia rushes for more than 100 yards they are 49-11 under head coach Mark Richt. When they accumulate more than 400 yards of total offense under Richt they are 29-3. Georgia will try to expose the Cowboys inexperience and lack of depth at defensive tackle, and new defensive coordinator Tim Beckman has a plan to fortify the middle of the defensive line with the hope that it won't expose the secondary to Stafford's arrows.

The Cowboys problems are lack of experience in all of the defensive tackles except Maurice Cummings. It gets pretty shaky after the first four of Cummings, Jeray Chatham, Tonga Tea and Shane Jarka. Expect a frequent rotation up front. Nathan Peterson at defensive end is a teriffic player, but is light for the position.

Georgia is big on the offensive front but inexperienced as none of the players started or even played at that position last season. The line will include true freshman but highly recruited Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle, and redshirt freshman Chris Davis at left guard. The veteran of the unit is center Fernando Velasco, but this will be his first game at center. There are two redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen backing up on the line. At tight end, redshirt freshman Na Derris Ward is starting backed up by true freshman Bruce Figgins. Very young are these Dogs, really pups.

The group that wins this battle of perceived weaknesses will go a long way to helping their team win.

Advantage: Even

2. Bobby Reid vs. UGA Defensive Back Seven
OK, Cowboy fans can put away the thoughts of Zac Robinson coming in and why would you want that? Reid had great numbers last season -- the second best year of total offense for an OSU quarterback. Yes, he spit up a couple of games, like Texas and Oklahoma, but quarterbacks and players mature and Reid has shown every sign of advancing a lot in that area in the off season. His offense believes in him and so does the coaching staff. His actions show he is much more relaxed, and remember, he has more reps (game and practice) in this offense than any quarterback on the team. He absolutely scares defensive coordinators with his ability to run the ball when the play breaks down.

Georgia has a solid secondary, but only one returning starter in strong safety Kelin Johnson. The corners are 5-11 on both sides, so Adarius Bowman and freshman Dez Bryant should be able to win jump balls. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is a good two inches taller than anybody that would be on him in coverage. Reid needs to get into a comfort zone, which running back Dantrell Savage can expedite with his contributions. Then Reid needs to take control. I believe he can, and hopefully he will convince all of you.

Advantage: Bobby Reid

3. Perrish Cox vs. Brian Mimbs and UGA Punt Unit
OSU special teams coordinator Joe DeForest has to be licking his chops on this one. A first time junior punter who just barely won the job over a freshman and the coach at Georgia is talking about Mimbs shanks aren't as bad as freshman Drew Butler's. You can bet the Bulldogs cover unit will be loadad with fast athletes, but it could be that the Cowboys will get good yardage in exchange on punts whether Cox, one of the top returners in the country, touches the ball or not. Low line drives give returners extra time to set their route, so we'll have to see if the punting in fall camp at Georgia was really an adventure or if Georgia head coach Mark Richt just likes to undersell certain phases of his team.

Advantage: Big to Perrish Cox

OSU-Georgia Prediction
This summer I guaranteed my radio audience a win. Of course, I put no monetary or silly offer tied to that guarantee. I still like the Cowboys chances, but this is a huge challenge. The margin for error in front of 92,000-plus Georgia fans looking to kick some Cowboy butt is thin. However, the opportunity for a program-image changing game is great. Georgia is a fabulous program, but the Bulldogs are rebuilding in several key areas. This Bulldog team will be improving each week and by late September will be a bear.

I like the Cowboys 'demeanor in practice this week. They have been enthusiastic, but relaxed and confident. Not overconfident, just that feeling that they know they can get the job done. I'll admit my nerves increase as kickoff nears, but I still will guarantee a win, no strings attached.

Final Score in Athens, Ga.
Oklahoma State 31, Georgia 27

Big 12 Picks - Week #1
Iowa State 24, Kent State 10
Colorado 17, Colorado State 6
Nebraska 34, Nevada 13
Missouri 28, Illinois 27
TCU 41, Baylor 9
Oklahoma 56, North Texas 7
Kansas 21, Central Michigan 10
Texas A&M 30, Montana State 14
Auburn 24, Kansas State 13
Texas 52, Arkansas State 14
Texas Tech, 28 SMU 21

Future OSU Opponents
Sam Houston State 27, Angelo State 7
Arkansas 35, Troy 16
Florida Atlantic 23, Middle Tennessee 21

GoPokes Top Stories