OSU-Georgia: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen offers his key matchups and prediction for Saturday's season opener between the ninth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and No. 13 Georgia. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (Central time).

Key Matchups
1. Georgia OL vs. OSU Defensive Front Seven
This is key, and I believe it is true, that Georgia wants to run the football. There is no doubt that Georgia has a physical advantage in the matchup with the Cowboy defensive line. The Cowboys expect to be better on defense, and with the assortment of Derek Burton, Swanson Miller, Shane Jarka, Nigel Nicholas, and Chris Donaldson have some depth to rotate and keep fresh legs in.

The OSU linebackers, even without Orie Lemon, are seniors and can run and make plays. This is the biggest question going into the game and goes a long way toward determining how good the OSU defense will be.

First-down rushing yardage is big for Georgia as they averaged more than five yards on first down runs in wins last season and just more than three yards on first down runs in their losses.

Edge: Georgia OL to some varying degree.

2. Georgia Secondary vs. OSU WR Dez Bryant
Will it be man, zone, double, or bracket coverage? You know Georgia is going to pay extra and special attention the Cowboys huge playmaker. Physically, it appears Bryant can beat the players that will be covering him.

Now can OSU beat the scheme Georgia uses by running the football, getting the ball into other hands in the passing game and keeping the Bulldogs from using enough personnel to suffocate Bryant? We believe Zac Robinson will get that done.

Edge: OSU WR Dez Bryant to some varying degree.

3. Georgia Cover Units vs. OSU Return Units
Georgia head coach Mark Richt speculated during fall camp that he might have his kicker and punter kick the ball out of bounds and completely avoid the trio of Dez Bryant, Perrish Cox, and Victor Johnson.

Kicking out of bounds would give the Cowboys plenty of bonus field position. Now if they kick to the Cowboys you know what Bryant and Cox are capable of doing. Last season Georgia was stingy on punt returns, but not as stingy on kickoff returns. Our belief is Oklahoma State gets a big play in this area and maybe more than one.

Edge: Solid to OSU Return Units

OSU-Georgia Prediction
Let's call this the wimpy prediction. Earlier this week on a preview show on television I picked a score of 37-28, a nine-point win. However, since then the Internet has been ripe with injury rumors and all kinds of crazy scenarios. They are coming from both sides. Most, if not nearly all, of the rumors are untrue.

Actually, I know the Oklahoma State situation well and do not feel at all that the Cowboys chance to win is compromised. Sure, you'd like to have Jamal Mosely and Orie Lemon but there are players to step up there. My backing up off my original prediction to a three-point Cowboys win is born more out of the fact the Internet rumors remind me that this is an opening game and there is a sense of unknown in an opener.

It comes with both sides. Mark Richt has some questions with his team; as does Mike Gundy with the Cowboys. We are always most afraid of the unknown. So again, call this my wimpy prediction.

As for how it comes about, I like the Cowboys to either get a big play or two in the special teams. Or Georgia just might kick it out of bounds giving OSU serious field position during the contest. I think special teams is critical.

I don't see the Cowboys turning the ball over. Robinson is careful and good about that and the backs are really good on ball protection. I see the Cowboys offense having a good day (400 to 450 yards of total offense and right around 200 yard rushing).

I think Georgia will move the ball some and score. I also see the Bulldogs introducing a wrinkle. I think they will use backup and athletic quarterback Logan Gray for some sort of "Wildcat" look on offense. Hold on to your hat, it could be an on-the-edge-of-your-seat finish.

OSU 34, Georgia 31

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