No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS)
Rose Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal
Date/Time: Monday January 1st, 2018. 5:00PM (EST)
Where: Rose Bowl Pasadena, C.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UGA -2/OKLA +2
Over/Under Total: 60
The opening College Football Playoff Semifinal will take place on New Years Day when the no. 3 Georgia Bulldogs meet the no. 2 Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California marking the first ever meeting between these prestigious programs. The storylines for both teams are uplifting and yet inspiring. On one side, you have Head Coach Kirby Smart who has rejuvenated the Georgia football program in his 2nd year while simultaneously giving rise to the SEC East with their taking of the SEC Championship. On the other side of the field, you have Head Coach Lincoln Riley who has restored faith in the Sooners program after the departure of Bob Stoops and a quarterback that has defied all odds in Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.
Apart from the unique storylines heading into the Rose Bowl is a parallel view on the contrasting style of football that both teams possess. Coach Smart has encompassed a physical style of football that resembles his former mentor Nick Saban. The former Alabama Defensive Coordinator has turned the Bulldogs into one of the top defenses in the nation holding opponents to just 270 yards (4th in FBS) per game. Unlike Georgia defenses in prior years, this Bulldogs group has played with attitude and confidence that has been unmatched from any group that I have watched this season. You can see the exuberating confidence in the SEC Championship Game as they bullied Auburn with toughness while holding the Tigers to just 7 points. Before that game, Auburn was arguably playing the best football in the country yet the Bulldogs defense did not back down and that has been the theme all season as they have held all opponents to just 13.2 points per game.
Along with Coach Smarts tremendous defense, he has also embraced another Alabama characteristic by relying on a dynamic rushing attack on offense. Of course I am not trying to give Smart credit for Georgias premier rushing attack. The Bulldogs already had a great rushing offense and a long history of tremendous tailbacks. However, the continued focus on the offensive line and building the pieces around the rushing attack should be given credit to Coach Smart. Quarterback Jake Fromm has been everything they have needed with 21 touchdown passes and just 5 picks. The offensive line has played well and of course Nick Chubb and Sony Michel continue to feasts as the best running duo in college football combining for more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns each.
Georgias approach to success is pretty simple and in many ways embodies the old school SEC philosophy of big time defensive play along with a physical running attack. Meanwhile, Oklahoma will bring a completely opposite style of play into Pasadena. The Sooners defense is not nearly as physical as Georgia but they do give many different looks and disguise coverages well. The Oklahoma offense counters with one of the most prolific attacks in college football. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has posted insane numbers completing 71% passing for 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and just 5 picks. Both Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews are in reach of the 1,000 yard plateau. Additionally, the running game is also very solid as the Sooners average 215 yards per game on the ground. In total, Oklahoma averages 583 total yards per game which is the best mark in college football.
Therefore, this will be a classic matchup highlighting one of the best offenses in the nation against one of the best defenses in the country while embracing everything in between. It is worth noting that the situation involving Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson may be something to monitor in the days leading up to the Rose Bowl. Anderson is the Sooners leading rusher but is facing legal issues away from the field that could potentially interfere with his availability. I do not personally believe Anderson will miss any time and also do not believe it would hurt Oklahomas chances too much if he was in fact held out. Needless to say, the situation is still worth monitoring.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think the matchup favors Oklahoma in most potential outcomes. Georgias defense is very good but the same can be said for Oklahomas offense and all their weapons. The total for this game implies that scoring should be frequent and that confirms the fact that I believe the Sooners will move the football. In my opinion that accomplishes two major possibilities that the Sooners need to win. If Oklahoma jumps out to an early lead, Georgia offense is not designed to play from behind (see the 1st Auburn game). Secondly if Oklahoma is able to move the football consistently, I do not believe Georgias defense will hold up for 4 quarters. Therefore, take the Sooners +2. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.