GEORGIA BULLDOGS (12-1)
at OKLAHOMA SOONERS (12-1)
Rose Bowl – Semifinal – Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
Kickoff: Monday, 5:00 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -2.0, Total: 60.0
#2 Oklahoma and #3 Georgia will be fighting for a spot in the championship when the teams meet in the Rose Bowl on Monday.
After an 8-5 season just one year ago, not many people expected Georgia to be competing for a national championship. Well, that changed pretty quickly for head coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs. Smart, who was previously a defensive coordinator at Alabama, needed just two years to build this Georgia team into one that matched his vision. The Bulldogs opened up the season with nine straight victories, including wins over Notre Dame and Mississippi State. And after a 40-17 loss at Auburn on Nov. 11 threatened their chances of making it to the College Football Playoff, the Bulldogs recovered and then beat that same Auburn team 28-7 in the SEC Championship. Oklahoma, meanwhile, was always considered one of the favorites to make it to the College Football Playoff. The Sooners have long been considered the best team in the Big 12, but they also had some impressive non-conference victories. The one that truly stands out is a 31-16 victory over Ohio State in Columbus. One trend that favors Georgia in this contest is the fact that the team is 6-0 ATS when playing away from home after a win by 17 or more points this season. The Bulldogs are also 10-2 ATS when playing away from home after two straight wins by 21 or more points since 1992. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is an equally impressive 7-0 ATS after two straight wins by 17 or more points over the past three seasons. The Sooners are also 11-3 ATS off two straight wins against conference rivals over the past two seasons.
If Georgia is going to win this game against Oklahoma then both RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are going to need to get themselves going. Both players are incredibly talented, and they’ll each see a pretty even number of touches in this one. Heading into this contest, Chubb had rushed for 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Michel, meanwhile, had rushed for 948 yards and 13 scores. If you had to give a label to each player then Chubb would be the between the tackles back and Michel is the change of pace. They both are, however, capable of doing a little bit of everything. And each of them should have some success here, as the Oklahoma defense definitely has some weaknesses. The Bulldogs will, however, need QB Jake Fromm to play well in this game. The freshman has thrown for 2,173 yards with 21 touchdowns and only five picks for Georgia this year. He is more of a game manager at this point in his career, but that isn’t necessarily a problem for the Bulldogs. With their running game, they really just need Fromm to take care of the football. But there will also certainly be some throws that he’ll need to make in this game. He has proven to be capable of making those plays already, but he will need to find a way to overcome what will be enormous pressure in a huge game like this. Defensively, the Bulldogs need to get after Baker Mayfield as often as possible. If they allow him to sit comfortably in the pocket then he will light them up like he has everybody else in his career.
Oklahoma knows exactly what it needs in order to beat Georgia and that would be a huge performance from Heisman Trophy winner QB Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is one of the most electrifying players in the history of college football, as he is capable of absolutely shredding his opponent on any given day. This year, Mayfield threw for 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and only five picks. He might be a bit small for the position, but he has big heart and an even bigger arm. This Georgia defense is definitely one of the best that Mayfield will have ever faced in his career, but it’s hard to sit here and say that he won’t be up to the challenge. He has pinpoint accuracy, a dominant offensive line blocking for him, and an excellent group of pass-catchers. The three to really keep an eye on are WR Marquise Brown, TE Mark Andrews and WR CeeDee Lamb. All three of them are capable of coming up huge, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Andrews were the one that shines on this stage. He is a matchup nightmare at the tight end position and has great chemistry with Mayfield. In the running game, look for RB Rodney Anderson to put up some big numbers here. Anderson is big and explosive out of the backfield, and he can make life on Mayfield a lot easier by breaking off a couple of big runs in this game. Defensively, if Oklahoma can slow down the Georgia running game then the team should be fine.