STILLWATER – When the fully renovated Boone Pickens Stadium opens its gates on the 2009 season Saturday, it will be as if some Cowboy posse finally delivers the Georgia Bulldogs for a long-anticipated sentencing.
Don’t expect the Dawgs to cooperate peacefully, no matter how rowdy the mob. Under coach Mark Richt, Georgia wins on the road at a stunning rate, going 30-4 in enemy territory since Richt’s debut in 2001. That makes for a better percentage than the Dawgs’ home record, which is 42-9 over the same period. And it involves wins at every SEC outpost except "The Swamp,” with Georgia and Florida playing their annual game on neutral ground in Jacksonville. "That’s definitely something we’re proud of and something we want to keep going,” said Bulldogs quarterback Joe Cox. Cox, a fifth-year senior and first-year starter, may hold the key to Georgia’s shot at extending the road raves. Richt considers savvy quarterback play the main factor in past successes, running through David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Matthew Stafford. "Quarterback is the one position that has to handle the pressure of that stadium, the crowd noise, the accentuation of if something goes bad, it seems worse than it is,” Richt said. "He’s the one who’s got to communicate everything to the team and also keep his poise if things get a little rocky.” This will be unchartered territory for Cox, whose only career start came in 2006 at home against Colorado. Still, Cox holds high regard among teammates for his poise, one reason he was voted a captain despite his limited experience. And while Cox hasn’t played many significant minutes, he’s played understudy to the guys in the crosshairs. "Joe’s seen that; he’s witnessed that ever since he’s been here,” Richt said. "Hopefully that helps him.” The Cowboys and their fans have been gearing up for this clash since the series was announced, with revenge added to the equation when Georgia popped the 2007 OSU squad in Athens. And Boone Pickens Stadium figures to roar like never before, as the Bulldogs’ arrival not only makes for a marquee matchup, but also a potential OSU springboard to a special season. Advantage Cowboys? "We’re not going out there and just playing anybody,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. Indeed, not. Georgia’s rich road record includes a 10-2 mark against ranked teams – 3-1 versus the top 10.