Previewing the Rose Bowl: 2 Oklahoma vs 3 Georgia
By Rocky Davis
Predictions for this game have been very different across the spectrum. Why is that? These teams bring very different playing styles to the forefront. In the case of Oklahoma, the Big-12 is an offense heavy conference. Georgia, on the other hand, is in the SEC; known for its low-scoring, defense filled games. Both of these teams are conference champions, each with an in-conference loss. I’m gonna put it this way, if the Bulldogs can contain the Sooner offense and allow less than 30 points, that’ll be the path to a UGA win. If Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma’s 44.9 PPG can get up in the 40s and can control the time of possession, we’ll be seeing them in the CFP Championship.
Former Texas Tech walk-on. 3 year starter at Oklahoma. And here Baker Mayfield is now, Heisman winning CFP semifinalist. Even through some controversy this year, Mayfield has put his team in prime position. With 4340 passing yards and 41 TDs on the year, the Heisman Trophy landed in the right hands. Let’s not forget to mention first year coach Lincoln Riley; for a first year, Power 5 HC, being ranked 2nd heading into bowl season is impressive to say the least. Leading an almost perfect season, despite a 38–31 home loss to a very average Iowa State team, Riley has delivered as good as or better than the legacy that Bob Stoops led at OU. The keys to this game for Oklahoma will be to keep the tempo up on offense and to consistently pressure Jake Fromm. Fromm is inexperienced, but has shown that he can perform in big games. If the front 7 can pressure the freshman QB, he may make more mistakes in the long run.
When the original College Football Playoff rankings were released (1 Georgia, 2 Alabama, 3 Notre Dame, 4 Clemson), UGA was the clear #1 team. The SEC Championship was the clear key to the Rose Bowl for the Bulldogs, bouncing back from the 40–17 Week 11 loss. Roquan Smith, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, will eliminate the medium pass game over the middle for the Sooner offense. Forcing deep passes will result in 50/50 throws in the direction of CBs Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker. If the defensive performance of UGA is per usual or better, the entire Big-12 offensive scheme would be shut down. One thing that Jim Chaney has consistently executed is the running game. With Sony Michel and Nick Chubb sharing carries in the early stages of the game and D’Andre Swift coming in fresh late, Oklahoma will have trouble stopping the Bulldog ground attack. If this Kirby Smart led unit can play in a similar fashion that they did in the SEC Championship, Lincoln Riley and his squad will struggle.
This matchup will be one for the ages. We will see who has the upper hand in this one tomorrow, January 1st, at 5 PM Eastern on ESPN.