The Oklahoma Sooners and Georgia Bulldogs face off in a College Football Playoff semifinal, the 2018 Rose Bowl, for a spot in the National Championship.
When it comes to grabbing headlines, it stands to reason that fans would flock towards the College Football Playoff matchup between Alabama and Clemson. After all, the third meeting after two instant-classics in the past two seasons is highly intriguing. With that being said, though, the better matchup of the two semifinals should well be in the 2018 Rose Bowl as the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners face the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.
In this contest, you’re obviously getting the Big 12 Champion going toe-to-toe with the SEC Champion. However, the interest in the matchup goes well beyond the accolades that each team has earned to this point.
Put simply, these are two teams that create a lot of problems for one another. While the Georgia defense has been beastly all season, they may not have seen an offense quite like the one helmed by Baker Mayfield. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has yet to contend with a team that can control the game with the run like the Bulldogs are capable of with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Subsequently, this game has the potential for fireworks. But before we start breaking down the matchup, let’s take a look at what you need to know to catch this game on New Year’s Day.
Georgia being the 2.5-point favorites in this one makes sense, even if they are the lower seed. Aside from their one loss — which they avenged in the SEC title game — they’ve been the more impressive of the two teams. However, the margin isn’t all that great as they set to to meet in Pasadena.
Georgia Keys to Victory
Whenever a team is coming up against Oklahoma, the first key is always going to be limiting Baker Mayfield. It would be great to say that Georgia needs to stop the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, but we should all know by now that’s not really something realistic, even for a defense as talented as Georgia’s.
However, what the Bulldogs defense can do is limit Mayfield’s effectiveness. If they are able to keep him from escaping and buying time to make plays, while also limiting the run game, they are going to be able to assert themselves more often than they otherwise would be able to. Again, Mayfield is going to get his production because he’s that talented and smart as a quarterback. However, the key is limiting how much damage he does.
In that same vein, though, the Georgia offense can help limit Mayfield and help the team move on to the National Championship Game by simply doing what they’ve done all season: run the football. The combination of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is one of the best rushing duos in the country. When you then sprinkle in some D’Andre Swift, it almost becomes unfair.
While Jake Fromm has been great this season, you don’t want to put too much on the young QB’s shoulders. As such, controlling the clock and game with the lethal rushing attack is what Smart’s team must do in the Rose Bowl. If they’re able to force things to play out that way, their chances of winning drastically increase.