Robinson or Weeden?

Will Zac Robinson be able to play in the final Bedlam game of his OSU playing career or will sophomore Brandon Weeden make his first career start in Saturday's showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners? That's the question that Oklahoma State fans – as well as OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables – will be asking leading up to one of the most important games in OSU football history.

The 11th-ranked Cowboys, 9-2, must defeat the Sooners, 6-5, to keep alive their hopes of earning an at-large berth to play in the school's first ever Bowl Championship Series game. OSU officials have been led to believe that if the Cowboys defeat the Sooners, and Texas wins its remaining games and plays in the BCS National Championship game, then OSU will be invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4, 2010.

It would be much easier to defeat the Sooners with Robinson, a three-year starter who has accumulated more than 10,000 total yards in his career (8,155 passing and 1,855 rushing). But the fifth-year senior missed OSU's 31-28 victory over Colorado last Thursday with a bruised shoulder, and Alex Cate became the first person other than Robinson to start at quarterback since the 2007 season.

Cate was replaced by Weeden at the start of the second half and lead the Cowboys to three touchdowns. The 26-year-old Weeden completed 10-of-15 passes for 168 yards, including a 47-yard TD pass to Keith Toston and the game-winning 28-yard scoring toss to Justin Blackmon.

OSU head coach Mike Gundy said during his Monday news conference that he expects Robinson to play Saturday against the Sooners.

"They told me this morning that he should be out there practicing full speed today," said Gundy. "Will he have some soreness? I would say he would still be sore but there's not anything structural that can affect him, it's just working through the soreness.

"He was throwing the ball over the weekend, so I would suspect that he would be fine," continued Gundy, who added that Robinson would work with the first team in practice this week, Weeden would get snaps as the No. 2 quarterback, and Cate is now the third-string signal caller.

Does the OSU game plan change if Robinson is not able to play against the Sooners? "I think so," said OSU offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer.

"Zac is definitely a dual threat as they describe these guys. He can pull the ball down and really do some damage (running). Weeden really did a tremendous job with his feet last week and his scrambling, but his arm kind of makes up for some things. When you throw a 98-mph fastball, the ball travels very fast and doesn't get very high, so that's a weapon he uses.

"Each one brings something different to the table, but with Zac's experience, you can't substitute that, especially in a game like this," Brewer added.

Weeden, the former professional baseball player who was a standout quarterback at Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., showed his teammates and coaches what he was capable of doing last Thursday night against Colorado. He certainly earned the respect of his teammates, Brewer said.

"That comes from making plays. Any time you can make a play and have some success it just breeds more success," Brewer said. "Those guys look at your eyes and they know Brandon has been around here waiting his turn, just like Keith Toston and a few others."

Gundy said the reason that Cate got the start and played the entire first half despite not completing any of his nine passes was because he had earned it in practice. The OSU coaching staff had not seen the same type of play from Weeden in practices throughout the season, Gundy said.

"I'm not sure I believe in it, but I'm not sure I don't believe in it," Gundy said when asked if Weeden performed better in games than in practice. "I've been around a few players who didn't practice as well as you wanted them to and then they played better on game day

"At this level, I would think that he would need to continue to prepare and work hard in practice, and execute so that we'll have confidence that it'll happen on game day. I think the best ones at this level and beyond are guys who practice very well and study the game. He's gotten much, much better at that over the last 12 months.

"He's gotten considerably better, and he's focused more. You would like to think that if you've had a little taste of success that you'd really dive into it and work hard, prepare and try to make yourself that much better to help your team," Gundy continued.

But having a 26-year-old backup – one who was a second-round draft choice by the New York Yankees and who has played professional baseball in three different organizations – is probably better than being forced to use a redshirt freshman whose last appearance was in a high school game two years ago.

"I think most of your strength and conditioning trainers, and people in the medical field, will tell you that the male develops all the way up to 28 years old, so I think that's an advantage for (Weeden)," Gundy said.

"Secondly, he's been out there in the real world. I think his demeanor, and all the situations he's come across out there have helped him make the adjustment to this level. He played with some poise the other night, which was good. I would say that being older contributed to that."

Having said that, Gundy would much rather have Robinson leading his Cowboys onto the field against Sooner standouts Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal and Travis Lewis on Saturday.

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