It’s the first game of the College Football Playoff – and it should be fantastic. Here are the final thoughts and a few predictions on the Georgia vs. Oklahoma Rose Bowl.
– Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak
Ten Final Thoughts Before The Georgia vs. Oklahoma Rose Bowl
10. Jake Fromm, this is your moment
Oh yeah, the other guy.
Baker Mayfield is the main man, the marquee named, and the big story in Pasadena, but Fromm is better than he’s being given credit for.
All season long, everyone has waited for him to play like a true freshman, and all he’s done is hit 63% of his passes for 21 yards and five scores. It’s not that Georgia can’t throw the ball; it’s that it doesn’t have to.
As long as Fromm is hitting his third down throws, he’ll be great.
9. Rodney Anderson, this is your moment
It’s hard to get too much love in the same backfield as Mayfield, but Anderson hit the 100-yard mark in five games in a six-game stretch, and rolled up 93 yards in the Big 12 Championship against TCU. He’s not going to go off against tis Georgia D, but as long as he’s able to pound out a few big runs here and there when everyone is worrying about No. 6, he’ll be doing his job.
8. The Georgia scoring defense
Georgia’s defense really has been amazing. It might have been hit by Auburn for 40 points, but that was about it. Missouri came up with four touchdowns in the 53-28 loss, but that was the only other time the Bulldogs allowed more than 19 points all season.
And now this D has had a month to prepare.
Think of it this way. Georgia has allowed 14 points or fewer in ten games this season. Alabama has allowed two touchdowns or less in eight games, and one of those was against Mercer.
Oklahoma allowed 14 or fewer against UTEP, Tulane and Kansas. That’s it.
7. This whole Baker Mayfield thing is weird
It’s the elephant in the room – or the sick guy who wasn’t in the room until he decided to come in and talk.
Baker Mayfield was sick. That’s it. And now he’s better.
He didn’t feel well, he got hit with something, and he’s trying to get his energy back up. The problem is that his game is all about emotion, fire, feistiness, and simply balling – he has to be ready to be Baker Mayfield.
An 83% Mayfield doesn’t get this done for the Sooners.
There’s absolutely no talk whatsoever of the other players being grouchy about any of this, but yeah, if Mayfield didn’t have the energy to go answer a few questions from the media until he absolutely had to, is he really going to be able to pop back up a few days later and be himself?
Hopefully, yes – he seems to be okay. His career has been too amazing to finish with a sniffle.
6. This seems like the beginning for Georgia
Oklahoma is always going to be solid – Lincoln Riley proved the Sooners aren’t going anywhere. However – and this isn’t dogging Riley at all – Bob Stoops left the new guy with a full cupboard. This was supposed to be a team good enough to be in the College Football Playoff hunt.
But this feels a bit more like the start of something massive for Georgia.
With the was Kirby Smart is recruiting, and with the young talent in place, and with the SEC East still not looking like anything amazing over the next few years, this might just be the beginning of a Bulldog dynasty.
5. Georgia has an efficient passing game, too
The Bulldogs might have finished last in the SEC in passing, but that’s only because Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the running game handled most of the work. But this is still an effective Bulldog passing attack, finishing seventh in the nation in efficiency.
Again, watch out for Fromm to be better than anyone is talking about.
4. Austin Seibert could be the secret weapon
Georgia has a terrific kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship – he hit 15-of-17 field goals – and Cameron Nizialek averaged an terrific 44.5 yards per punt.
However, Seibert might just be the difference-maker for the Sooners.
He’s a solid punter – averaging 42.5 yards per kick – but he wasn’t used that much. However, against this Georgia D that’s great at not breaking, the guy with 45 career made field goals will put his stamp on the game.
3. Defense over offense – if you have to
Oklahoma’s defense is better than it gets credit for, but it’s just not the Georgia D.
Georgia’s offense is fantastic, but it’s just not the Oklahoma O.
But Georgia is fourth in the nation in total defense, and Oklahoma is 59th. It’s a cliche, but go with the better defense over the better offense, especially with time to gear it up. However …
2. The Oklahoma energy has to be there
This all comes from No. 6.
Again, it seems like all is going to be fine and his immune system is helping the cause now, but Mayfield has to do what he does best and use this week and use all the hullaballoo to fire up whatever has made this former walk-on one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all-time.
Different year, different team, different situation, but Oklahoma wilted against Clemson a few years ago in the College Football Playoff loss in the Orange Bowl. It’ll have to be ready to handle the adversity and keep the energy rolling for a full sixty minutes.
That might be when Mayfield’s flu issues this week matter.
1. Georgia is going to win the 2018 Rose Bowl
Nothing has worked to slow down Mayfield so far. Not Ohio State, not the Big 12, not the Kansas taunting, not the naysayers who didn’t like the attitude or the character issues that really aren’t there.
And Georgia won’t stop him, either.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to as long as it takes full advantage of its possessions. It won’t be slow and go for the Bulldogs, but the running game will control the pace, Fromm will hit his third down throws, and by the fourth quarter, the Georgia defense will take over the game on the way to Atlanta for a shot at the program’s first national title since 1980.