Oklahoma State's opener at Georgia is a "money ball” game. A win between the hedges would be worth more than your typical September non-conference win.
A lot more.
OSU is a 6 1/2-point underdog. But it's a game the Cowboys can win, a "money ball” game that would propel them into the Top 25.
If the Cowboys lose, it won't derail the season. Few teams waltz into Athens, Ga., and escape with a win (Georgia coach Mark Richt is 17-0 at home against non-conference foes).
But OSU is catching Georgia at the right time. The Bulldogs should be much better in October than they are Sept. 1.
Georgia returns only three defensive starters, and the offensive line is a concern. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, a budding star with a strong arm, directed three late-season upsets over top 20 powers but threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
In contrast, OSU has an explosive offense and more experience.
The Cowboys return 14 starters, 16 if you include defensive ends Nathan Peterson and Marque Fountain who started earlier in their careers, 18 if you include kicker Jason Ricks and punter Matt Fodge.
"To beat a team with as much tradition as Georgia, beat them on national TV and all the other good stuff, it would give us a lot of confidence,” said quarterback Bobby Reid. "But it will be tough. That's how it is in the SEC.”
What are realistic expectations for OSU, not only Saturday but also the 2007 season?
At every function — whether it was a caravan stop or a press conference — coach Mike Gundy inevitably has been asked: How good can the Cowboys be this season?
"We believe as a staff if we put together a good game plan, get our players physically ready and play well, we will give ourselves a chance in every game we play,” Gundy said.