Oklahoma State defense stymies Georgia
Here’s the CFN team’s take on No. 9 Oklahoma State’s 24-10 win over No. 13 Georgia on Saturday.
All offseason I was telling everyone who’d listen, and many who wouldn’t, that Georgia was the sleeper team in the national title race. The offensive line was going to be strong, the defense was going to be nasty, and the loss of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno wouldn’t matter. Joe Cox was a veteran quarterback who has been groomed in the system, and there was a bevy of backs ready to rotate in and produce. The defense did its job, and the O-line wasn’t awful — even though there were too many hits on Cox. But the Bulldogs needed playmakers. Cox, as it turned out, wasn’t able to keep the chains moving and he wasn’t able to make the steady plays needed. Being sick all week with the flu might have been an issue for Cox, but the running game didn’t help him out enough.
For Oklahoma State, this was an important game beyond just beating a team like Georgia; the Cowboys showed they could win when things weren’t working. The offense wasn’t clicking, quarterback Zac Robinson was lousy for stretches, and receiver Dez Bryant, for all the good things he did, appeared to let Georgia in his head, almost literally, with several big shots and physical play. The offense will blow most teams up, but now, the team knows it can rely on it defense when needed and that the O isn’t going to have to carry the way through every game. Oklahoma State got the big feather in its cap, and now it’ll be interesting to see how it handles being the favorite instead of the rising team yearning for respect.
Any win over a quality SEC opponent like Georgia was going to be a big deal in Stillwater. That the Cowboys did it with a healthy dose of defense was doubly impressive.
Oklahoma State solidified its top-10 ranking without getting its usual contributions from Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter or Dez Bryant. That is a huge development for a school that plans to be more than just this year’s Texas Tech — a school that scores a million points, but can’t win the Big 12 crown. The Cowboys’ offense is going to be just fine, but it’s the defense that is considered to be the roadblock to a championship. Well, at least for one weekend, the unit looked nothing like an Achilles’ heel, making the hiring of coordinator of Bill Young look really shrewd. It created pressure and turnovers versus a quality offensive line, limiting the ‘Dawgs to just 10 points and 265 total yards. If Saturday’s performance was a defensive omen of things to come, it might be time to start mentioning Okie State in the same sentence as Texas and Oklahoma.
1. Absolutely brutal personal foul call on Georgia’s Reshad Jones with roughly nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma State clinging to a 17-10 lead. A Zac Robinson pass was being bobbled by an OSU receiver; when a ball is dancing on the fingertips of a would-be pass catcher, a strong hit is needed to break up the play. Jones did his job, didn’t lead with his helmet, didn’t hit the helmet of the receiver … and got flagged. This was a second-and-11 play from the Georgia 33, on the periphery of field-goal range in a one-possession game. OSU scored a touchdown a few plays later, and that was the difference in Stillwater.
2. Matthew Stafford didn’t max out for Georgia last season; the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft was noticeably inconsistent for the Dawgs in a campaign that promised so much more than it actually delivered. With that said, it was surprising to read a lot of print and cyber-ink in recent weeks about how the absence of Stafford and running mate Knowshon Moreno wouldn’t matter against Oklahoma State. Georgia’s offense moved in fits and starts, and in a first half the Dawgs dominated, it was the inability of new signal caller Joe Cox to make a handful of plays near midfield which prevented the visitors from accumulating a multipossession lead. Commentators will talk a lot about the difference special teams made in this game, and rightly so; but the real heroes of this contest belong to the OSU defense.
Hey, what do you know? Oklahoma State can actually play some defense. Georgia came to Stillwater with its SEC powerhouse offense and threatened early to slap around the Cowpokes in their spanking new stadium. Then, OSU decided to change the script and show that maybe it has the desire to be a complete team, rather than just an offensive powerhouse that excites and entertains but ultimately disappoints. Zac Robinson wasn’t able to put up pinball-like numbers, but he operated an offense that succeeded against a strong SEC D and benefited from some solid special teams play and a pile of Georgia miscues. It may be too early to talk about how the Bulldogs have fallen after the top-five expectations that began last season, but the Â¿Dawgs seemed adrift offensively after their first drive. OSU, meanwhile, should add a pretty interesting plot line to the Big 12 South race that appeared to be a Texas-Oklahoma affair but now could be a three-team tango.