STILLWATER, Okla. — Mike Gundy was in the midst of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to rededicate Oklahoma State's renovated stadium when he heard public address announcer Larry Reece say that the game that followed marked the biggest day in the history of the university.
"No pressure," he said.
With a record crowd looking on, Gundy and his Cowboys lived up to the expectations that came with the best preseason ranking in school history.
Zac Robinson threw two touchdown passes to star receiver Dez Bryant and also scored on a quarterback sneak as No. 9 Oklahoma State beat 13th-ranked Georgia 24-10 on Saturday.
"It's huge. It's a great feeling. Starting off 1-0 against such a great team in Georgia, we knew it was a big game coming in and obviously it feels great to get this win," Robinson said. "It kind of jump starts the season."
The Bulldogs' first season opener outside the southeast in 51 years was set up as a grand reopening of Oklahoma State's stadium after a $286 million renovation. It ended up as the most anticipated home opener in OSU history as the Cowboys returned most of their stars from last year's breakout 9-4 season.
A record crowd of 53,012 turned out as billionaire donor T. Boone Pickens rededicated the stadium. Career rushing-leader Thurman Thomas made a cameo, too.
Then came the best part for OSU: a victory.
"It was a tremendous day," Gundy said.
The Cowboys surged onto the national scene last season with an upset of No. 3 Missouri. They're only regular-season losses came against teams ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Despite a loss to Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, they headed into this season with higher hopes than ever before.
Now, they can add to the list of program-changing wins, up there with the Missouri game and back-to-back upsets of rival Oklahoma at the beginning of the decade. Right?
"I would like to think overall that we're a little bit beyond that," Gundy said. "We've played some really good teams the last couple of years and we've either beaten them or we've stood toe-to-toe with them."
With the Cowboys' high-powered offense struggling, it was a surprising defense directed by first-year defensive coordinator Bill Young that led the way. Safety Lucien Antoine forced a fumble that allowed Oklahoma State to take its first lead just before halftime, and Shane Jarka jarred the ball loose from Georgia quarterback Joe Cox to help OSU put it away late.
Robinson finished with 135 yards on 11 for 22 passing, and Bryant made the most of his three catches for 77 yards. Bryant finished off a 46-yard connection between the two with a dazzling diving catch in the first half, then caught a 12-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter for the game's final score.
Cox, making his first start since 2006, was 15 for 30 for 162 yards with one interception and one touchdown. His late fumble led to Bryant's second score.
"Our defense played an incredible game and we didn't do our part on offense," Cox said. "I didn't do my part as the quarterback, and we gave the ball up too many times."
The Georgia offense — a group looking for new stars after the early departures of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the NFL — slowed to a halt after Cox's 4-yard TD pass to Michael Moore on the game's opening drive. After marching 80 yards on the opening drive, Georgia had just 177 the rest of the game.
Cox, who had flown separate from the team because of a virus, refused to lean on his health as an excuse.
"I wasn't 100 percent, but I felt definitely good enough to play a football game and that's all that matters," Cox said.
The Bulldogs got a career-long 53-yard field goal by kicker Blair Walsh to get within 17-10 before Cox's fumble. Georgia also lost left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to a left knee injury in the second half.
"Sure we lost this game, but there's an awful lot to play for yet," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "It's just game one."
Gundy said he met with Pickens after the game ended and shared a few words.
"He said that everything that he put in this program — this new stadium, this new locker room, this new facility — that this win today was worth it," Gundy said.
"I have a feeling that he expects more than that."