The Rose Bowl will be a classic offense against defense matchup with Heisman winner Baker Mayfield getting most of the attention for Oklahoma. Georgia was left out of the conversation after getting smoked at Auburn, but did its job winning the SEC title Game and made it to the Playoff. With bettors still going back and forth between the better team, it was a pick ‘em at 5Dimes Sportsbook in late December.
It’s not easy to read the Bulldogs because they split Games with Auburn, the toughest opponent on the Schedule. OUtside of that, the toughest opponent was Notre Dame, which flailed down the stretch and Mississippi State. Georgia has a good defense that ranks among the best in the nation, but hasn’t seen anywhere close to this level of offense.
Oklahoma also only has one loss, but it can be argued it’s been a little more impressive with the win at Ohio State standing out. The Sooners have already shown they can beat top competition out of Conference and the sweep of TCU shows they can beat good defenses. OUtside of the Iowa State blip, it’s been a great season for Oklahoma even with a mediocre defense.
Starting with Mayfield and company, this will be a great matchup to watch. But even with Mayfield, this Game could be decided in the trenches. If the OU offensive line can control things, that will give the Sooners room to run and also Mayfield time to pass. The Bulldogs rank No. 2 per ESPN’s defensive efficiency metric, but gave up 3.5 yards per carry, which is .6 yards more than TCU allowed. Mayfield has already dealt with a good Ohio State defense and TCU twice. If he can Scoremore than 30 points in this Game, that would be frosting on the cake.
Mayfield has been incredible this season with 41 touchdowns and only five picks coming on 11.76 yards per attempt. In his toughest Games of the season, he threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns against OSU and averaged close to 300 yards and seven total touchdowns against TCU. While Georgia has a good defense, there’s no reason to believe it can stop Mayfield. The Bulldogs have stopped offenses like Notre Dame’s, Miss. State’s and Auburn’s once, but none of those teams had a Heisman at quarterback. Mayfield has had a number of guys fill in for former stud wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who dominated targets last season. Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and CeeDee LAmb all played big roles at a time this season. In the backfield, Rodney Anderson, who should be eligible to play in this Game, came on in the second half of the season and finished with 960 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry.
But with any Game listed as a pick ‘em, there’s a route for both teams to win. The Sooners may have been better defensively than once projected, but this is still a hard group to trust. They allow 4.0 yards per carry, which is good, but maybe not good enough. The Sooners blew out TCU twice because the Frogs don’t have that consistent of an offense. The problem is that Georgia’s offense has rolled through every subpar defense this season and has seen much better defensive fronts than that of OU’s. Iowa State upset Oklahoma because it did just enough on defense and moved the ball consistently in the second half. To win this Game, Georgia will have to keep the chains moving.
That should be more than possible with the best two-headed backfield in the country behind Nick Chubb (1,175 yards, 13 TDs) and Sony Michel (948 yards, 13 TDs). OUtside of the Auburn loss, those guys haven’t been stopped and as long as they can churn out yards, this will be a tight Game. But winning for Georgia may require freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to step up. He’s already been in big spots, receiving his first start at Notre Dame and then going 16-of-22 against Auburn in the SEC title Game. The Sooners can be beat defensively and if Georgia can control that aspect, it will keep Mayfield on the sidelines more often than not.
The Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl Games and 4-1 ATS in their last five out of conference. The Sooners have covered in their last Four against the SEC and also their last Four non-Conference Games. The under has hit in seven of Oklahoma’s last eight Games against the SEC.
Our Pick – Georgia -125 (money line)