College Football Playoff: #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Georgia | What To Watch For

Date: Monday, January 1st
Kickoff: 4:00 pm (Central)
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

Team Stats Georgia Oklahoma
Points Per Game 34.9 44.9
Points Allowed Per Game 13.2 25.0
Total Yards 433.6 583.3
Yards Passing 170.1 367.4
Yards Rushing 263.5 215.9
Yards Allowed 270.9 384.8
Pass Yards Allowed 158.3 240.6
Rush Yards Allowed 112.6 144.2

Unfamiliar Faces In Unfamiliar Places

Oklahoma and Georgia are going to start off the new year by playing each other, in football, for the very first time. With both schools making only their second appearance in the historical Rose Bowl game, the stakes couldn’t be higher with a berth in the national championship game on the line.

The Sooners haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 2003 but the pause for Pasadena has been much longer for the Bulldogs. Georgia last played in the Rose Bowl in 1943.

Ground And Pound vs. Air Raid

Both teams bring in talented offenses with different strengths. The stable of running backs on the Georgia sideline led the Bulldogs to an S.E.C. best 3,426 rushing yards in 2017. Oklahoma does it a bit different though. Heisman winning quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 71% of his passes in leading the Sooners to the top passing attack in the Big 12 at 4,776 total passing yards.

But Wait…There’s More

With all the attention Baker Mayfield has drawn, most people overlook the fact that the Sooners actually ran the ball more than they threw it in 2017. Sure Baker’s 333.8 yards per game and 41 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions are super impressive but don’t let that distract you from the fact that Oklahoma also had the Big 12’s top rushing attack…and it wasn’t even close.

As a team the Sooners ran for an average of 215.9 yards per game (5.6 yards per carry) on their way to a Big 12 best 2,807 yards on the ground.

The Defensive Discussion…Did You Know?

There’s no doubt that Oklahoma has had their share of struggles on the defensive side of the ball in 2017. Just about every major media outlet has mentioned that OU allowed opponents an average of 4-yards per carry.

Going into the teeth of Georgia’s rushing attack, the Sooners are going to have to find a way to hunker down and force the Bulldogs to play behind the chanes, but did you know that Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm also completed 63% of his passes…including 21 touchdowns to 5 interceptions?

Georgia Playmaker To Watch

The pressure is certainly on both defenses as they face the task of putting the breaks on highly successful offenses. Linebacker Roquan Smith is Georgia’s key to executing their defensive game plan. He not only excels in run support with 113 total tackles (10.5 for loss) but he’s also a solid pass rusher with 5.5 quarterback sacks on the season.

Oklahoma Playmaker To Watch

Head coach Lincoln Riley is a master at the numbers game and exploiting defenses with one-on-one matchups. Tight end Mark Andrews is a key figure in Riley’s success with an average of 15.6 yards per reception and 8 touchdowns this season. A 6-5/254 frame, along with deceptive speed, makes Andrews a nightmare match-up for defenders, particularly in one-on-one. He’s too fast for most linebackers to run with and too big, and physical, for most defensive backs to contain.

Why Georgia Will Win

Defensive dominance and ball control! You have to give credit where it’s due and apart from one slip-up, against Auburn the first time, defense has ruled the day for the Dawgs. You just can’t look past Georgia allowing opponents less that 300 total yards of offense and an average of just 13.2 points per game.

Along with their stout defense is a rushing attack that grinds up both yards and clock. The Bulldogs run at a clip of 263.5 yards per game and have a rotation of backs that allows them to keep fresh legs in the game.

Why Oklahoma Will Win

Too many options on offense! If we’re going to have an honest conversation about the Georgia defense then we must be willing to admit that they haven’t seen an offense the caliber of Oklahoma’s this season. The closest they’ve come is Auburn but Jarrett Stidham is a far cry from Baker Mayfield. The Sooners also bring a lot of balance into this contest with 367 yards per game coming through the air and another 216 via the ground.

Most people believe that the Sooners are going to attack Georgia through the air but don’t be surprised to see OU use their on crew of talented running backs. Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon averaged 5.9 and 6.0 yards per carry, respectively, and scored a combined 16 touchdowns.

When it does come time to pass there isn’t anyone better in the business. Baker Mayfield made his case for his receivers in August when people were stuck on discussing the talent that had moved on to the NFL. His crew has responded with 13 different players hauling in touchdown passes this season, with nine of those logging more than one.

Score Prediction

Georgia can chew up all the clock they want because it literally takes the Sooners just seconds to score. I like Oklahoma to advance in a close game.

OU 30 – UGA 27



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