Are Cowboys Ready For The Big Time?

STILLWATER – Mike Gundy said the Oklahoma State football team wasn't ready for the big-time when the Cowboys lost to Georgia two years ago. "We found out we are not ready for the big-time," Gundy said following the 35-14 loss in Athens, Ga. But Gundy said Monday that the Bulldogs will see a different Cowboy team when they make the trip to Boone Pickens Stadium for Saturday's 2009 season opener.

Oklahoma State is ranked ninth in the preseason Associated Press poll – the highest preseason ranking ever in school history – and has three of the most prolific offensive players in all of college football in quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Dez Bryant.

Georgia is No. 13 in the preseason poll.

"The question that you get all the time is compare this game to what happened two years ago, and my answer has been I think Georgia is a very good football team, I think they have a lot of talent, I think they're very strong, I think they're very physical, like they have been for a number of years," Gundy said during his weekly news conference on Monday.

"But I think our football team overall, in all three phases from an organizational standpoint, is a better team than we were (in 2007)."

Robinson, the senior quarterback who played sparingly as a backup against the Bulldogs two years ago, gave Cowboy fans a reason to be optimistic when Georgia head coach Mark Richt brings his team to Stillwater this weekend.

"It's a totally different team now," Robinson said of the Cowboys.

"There's no question we've been waiting for this one for a long time. I remember even two years ago after we played them, everybody was talking about how we'll get them when they come back to Stillwater. We're excited to have them back.

"We feel better coming into this game than we did two years ago. Playing at Georgia was a tough task but we're a much more talented team now, and we feel good about where we're at. Hopefully we'll have a good week of practice and continue to prepare for them," Robinson added.

"He was right (when he said we weren't ready for the big time)," Robinson said of his head coach. "From a talent standpoint and experiencing big games, we really weren't ready. Dating back to last year and the big games we played last year, and playing well in big games, I think that helped us out a lot, and I think we should be ready to go Saturday.

"The overall talent that we have now compared to two years ago is … you can't even compare it. We have a lot more talent, a lot more depth. We've just grown as a team. The whole program has grown, and the confidence we have now and knowing that we can play well in big games … I think those are the main differences. It's really hard to compare where we were back then to where we are now."

The game has been hyped as probably the most anticipated home opener in Oklahoma State history, and Gundy compares it to some of the biggest games ever played against in-state rival Oklahoma.

"I'd say it's as big as it gets. If you were going to say the right thing publicly, you'd say, ‘Aw naw, it's not anything like Bedlam.' But I'd say there's a lot of excitement and the anticipation in the community is very much like what it would be like in a Bedlam week.

"I think our players are very excited. I know the coaches are. There's been a lot of excitement in this area in the last few weeks. I don't know that I've ever been around Stillwater when the ‘I need ticket' signs started going up last week at the local gas stations," Gundy said.

Gundy believes the 2009 Cowboys are ready to play in a big-time game – one that will be televised nationally by ABC Sports – after experiencing contests with games against the nation's top three-ranked teams a year ago.

"I hope so. That question got brought up several times last year and my only answer would be that we played some pretty good football teams in the last year since then, and either beat them or stood toe-to-toe with them right to the end," Gundy said.

"Standing toe-to-toe with them right to the end is not what we're looking for. We want our guys to play extremely hard and give ourselves a chance, and we'd like to finish it. I think our football team and our program is seen in a different light then it was two years ago."

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