In rating five teams that preseason estimations may have overrated and five that might prove to have been underrated, Rivals.com senior college football writer Olin Buchanan has put an interesting spin on the Sept. 5 season opener in Stillwater. Georgia is one of the teams he pegs as “possibly underrated” and Oklahoma State makes his list of “possibly overrated” programs.
His advice on the Bulldogs: “Don’t take them too lightly. Georgia has posted at least 10 wins in six of the past seven seasons and should have another strong year.” He thinks the offensive line “could be among the nation’s best with Trinton Sturdivant back in the lineup” and says wide receiver A.J. Green “could gain superstar status this season.”
Defensively, “tackle Jeff Owens is back from injury, and he, Geno Atkins and Kade Weston provide an outstanding rotation.” The linebackers are solid and while “the secondary needs to get better,” he says, “at least there are good athletes to work with in the defensive backfield.” The Dogs have a demanding early schedule, but “if the Bulldogs get through that, the Top 10 beckons — maybe even the top five.”
His capper goes into territory that even the most optimistic Dogs fan is probably hesitant to enter: “Three times in the BCS era, teams won national championships the season following an NFL draft in which their previous quarterback was the first player selected overall (Tennessee, LSU and USC). Could Georgia make it four?”
As for Okie State, Buchanan says, “No doubt, there are reasons to expect a big season in Stillwater. Dez Bryant is the best receiver in the country. Kendall Hunter is an explosive running back. Zac Robinson is a third-year starter at quarterback. Russell Okung could be the first offensive lineman taken in next year’s NFL draft.”
The problem, he says, is that all those players are on offense. “The defense could bring the Cowboys down like an anchor. Don’t forget that six opponents scored at least 28 points against the Cowboys last season, and that they were among the nation’s worst in pass rush and pass defense. Six starters return on the defense, but only one in the secondary.”
There are some questions about the offense, too, Buchanan says. “Remember, the Cowboys bogged down when Bryant was hurt in the fourth quarter of last year’s 42-31 Holiday Bowl loss to Oregon.”
Of course, Georgia allowed an opponent to score more than 35 points five times last season. And the bulk of the Dogs’ offensive production came from players no longer on the team.
And there’s no doubt Buchanan is swimming against the media stream here, as the Cowboys have been annointed as a preseason juggernaut by most national analysts.
But then the Dogs know how that can turn out.
Talking to UGA fans about the upcoming match, I haven’t been able to get a consensus yet. Quite a few are marking down the opener as one of the Dogs’ likely losses, feeling that Georgia just won’t be able to stop the Cowboys’ offense while our own rebuilding offense might not be ready to keep up that early in the season. Other Dogs fans are resistant to the hype surrounding the Pokes and smell another Boise State or Hawaii. Overrated, in other words.
What do you think?