OSU-Georgia: In Four Words

Four words fit together at the end of the day Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. The words chemistry, adversity, expectation, and obligation. No telling which of those fit Boone Pickens when he made his first financial pledge to Oklahoma State football in the form of a $20 million donation.

He followed that in 2005 with the $165 million donation, the largest gift ever to an NCAA athletic program. Let's just say expectation became obligation in Pickens' terms. Saturday as the ribbons were cut, the stadium officially christened, Pickens sounded like a satisfied customer.

"You guys like this locker room?" asked Pickens in the dressing room after the Cowboys defeated Georgia 24-10. The players roared their approval. "You like this stadium? Playing in it?" continued Pickens. Again, a roar of approval from the OSU players.

"Well, as big as this locker room and stadium are to you, that win was worth more to me," Pickens said.

It was good that the Cowboys could successfully turn expectation into obligation for Pickens and for many, as many as 45,000 season-ticket holders. They pay bigger prices than in the past, but when your team goes out and beats Georgia it is well worth it.

It did not come easily. This past week was one of the most strange heading into a season opener for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys lost starting tight end Jamal Mosley because of an off-the-field transgression (an alledged rape) that were too severe to attempt to solve. Mosley enrolled at Tennessee and will play football for the Vols.

That left Wilson Youman and young tight ends Justin Horton and Cooper Bassett to fill in. Starting middle linebacker Orie Lemon tore his ACL in Monday's practice without any contact, a purely non-contact injury, and that thrust talented but much less experienced Donald Booker into the line-up. On top of that there were all kinds of other injury rumors that caused panic and disturbia in the Cowboy nation.

In the end the usual stars -- quarterback Zac Robinson, sensational wide receiver Dez Bryant, running backs Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston, and cornerback/return specialist Perrish Cox -- that helped propel the Cowboys to the win that left the student section chanting, "Big 12, Big 12."

However, there was plenty of credit to go around and because of strong chemistry on the Cowboy squad the adversity was overcome. How about Youman. After a sputtering first period offensively, Robinson hit Youman over the middle for 23 yards. It put OSU in Georgia territory for the first time in the game. It sparked the Cowboys offense.

"Whenever the pass came to me I was thinking that somebody needs to step up and start making big plays," said Youman after the win. "After I caught the ball and I went to the sidelines I thought we had a play to get the fire going and from that point on I thought the offense was moving much better.

"That is exactly right, when things happen guys have to step up. All three of us, Justin (Horton), Cooper (Bassett), and myself, we all have our talents and things that we can give the team," continued Youman.

Booker stepped in for Lemon with the injured linebacker coaching Booker on the side. The speedy Booker had five tackles officially and a pass break up and quarterback hurry. He played really well.

"Really I had three linebacker coaches. I had Orie Lemon, I had Coach (Glenn) Spencer) and I had Nate (Burton, grad assistant)," said Booker. "I learned the stuff that I needed to know and I knew on the field I was going to do good. That is what I love to do, me and Lucien (Antoine) we love to hit people. That is why we play football."

Then there is defensive tackle Shane Jarka. The junior plays every day with a degree of pain from a chronic ankle injury, but he does it because he loves to play. He loves to play at Oklahoma State, and he made a huge play when he got one of his 1.5 sacks in the game and forced a Joe Cox fumble that led to the final Cowboy touchdown.

"I go out there every day and battle the whole ankle problem, but I try not to let that effect more because I want to be out there with my team," said Jarka. "I want to help them get better.

"It was one of our base defenses and I was in a three tech and I saw this big guy and saw him scramble out and there was big gap and I thought I better go fill that quick. I thought he (Cox) was going to throw the ball and he was stupid to hold this ball but he did, and I said I'm going to hit this guy so hard and I did and some how the ball got out as you saw," Jarka said in describing the play that led to the fumble.

Finally, youth was served in the contest. Only one freshman played in safety Daytawion Lowe. However, a lot of young players did see action, including redshirt freshman Nigel Nicholas, all 265 pounds playing defensive tackle and recovering that fumble Jarka forced. The smile on his face was so big because Nicholas is from Georgia.

"No, I like to smile and it is one of my favorite things to do," said Nicholas. "I am so glad we came out of that with the win. The size of the heart counts the most and I just go out there and do what Coach Young tells me too. I thought, 'Is that ball really, really sitting there?' and I jumped on it."

"Nigel, he's been tremendous and he's made so many strides," said Jarka. "I am so proud of him. He is a youngster and he is making plays."

Worth it, heck yeah. Worth playing with a bum ankle, worth having to say good-bye to a friend and teammate, worth knee surgery and the rehab that will follow.

Football is worth a lot, just ask Boone Pickens about his investment. Today in Stillwater, thanks to four words and four players that know the definitions of those words, it was pay day.

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