The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication
A bit of an added bonus to this bowl preview, along with the other five members of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games. In addition to the usual spread and total paragraphs we have in these previews, we’ll have a quote from one of the guys over at Sportsline, giving you some things they’re thinking about heading into these games. You’ll see it at the bottom of the post here and you can see more from the guys over at the site.
#3 Georgia (12-1) vs. #2 Oklahoma (12-1)
Spread: Georgia -2
Spread: This year’s Heisman trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, leads his Sooners team into a difficult playoff match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs at the “Grandaddy of them all”, the Rose Bowl. Mayfield and the Sooners were the 4th ranked scoring offense in the country, averaging 44.9 points per outing, while averaging over 580 total yards per game. Mayfield was ludicrously efficient, completing 71 percent of his passes for over 4,300 yards to go with 41 touchdowns and just five interceptions, while also adding 310 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Running backs Rodney Anderson (probable) and Trey Sermon combined to surpass 1,300 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this season giving the attack balance. Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb are the threats on the outside, but the Sooners also have a match-up nightmare in TE Mark Andrews who hauled in 58 passes for over 900 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
On defense, the Sooners numbers don’t look as impressive, allowing 25 points and 380 yards per game. But, they’ve played much better in their high-stakes games, allowing 20 and 17 points in their two games vs. TCU and jumping out to a 45-10 lead on WVU at the half before letting up on the gas in the second half. They’ve been fairly good against the run (144 YPG 4.0 YPC), but that will be tested by this Georgia rushing attack.
Speaking of, the Bulldogs duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb combined to surpass 2,100 yards with 26 touchdowns as UGA averaged over 260 yards per game on the ground. That took a lot of pressure off of freshman QB Jake Fromm, who was good when called upon, completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,173 yards and 21 TDs with just five picks. The unit as a whole averaged just under 35 points (34.9) and 435 yards (433.6) per game this season.
The defense is where Kirby Smart’s crew made its name this season, but they will be missing a key player in LB Natrez Patrick who is away from the team seeking treatment for substance abuse issues. Still, the Bulldogs will have leader Roquan Smith (113 tackles 10.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks) who was the linchpin for a unit that allowed just 13 points and 270 yards per game this season. The Bulldogs were pretty good a defending the pass this season allowing opponents just 158 yards per game, but they have yet to face a spread attack like the one they’ll see from the Sooners.
Both teams were good ATS this season with the Sooners going 8-5 and the Bulldogs posting a 9-4 mark. The Bulldogs were 8-4 as the favorite, while the Sooners were a perfect 2-0 as the underdog this season, winning both games outright (Ohio State & Oklahoma State). While the Bulldogs haven’t seen anything close to the Sooners passing attack, the Sooners haven’t really seen this kind of punishing, old-school running game either. Mayfield is the X-factor, and I think he makes enough magic for Oklahoma to pull it out. Oklahoma +2
Total: Sixty is a high number considering what these two defenses were able to do this season. Generally, when Oklahoma gave up a bunch of points, it was because their opponents had a similarly potent passing attack. That isn’t the case here as Jake Fromm has thrown for more than 200 yards just three times all year (Miss St., Missouri, Ga. Tech). Under 60.
Sportsline Expert: “This will be the ultimate test of great offense versus great defense. The Sooners can hang 40 on the best of them, and they did it to nine teams this season. Baker Mayfield is a blast to watch but this Bulldogs defense is outright ornery and their attack is relentless. Just ask Auburn last time out. Still, a great offense trumps great defense, so I expect a lot of points to be put on the board.”
What a job Jake Fromm has done for the Bulldogs. He’s a freshman playing like a senior. It helps he’s got his two big dogs to do the grunt work in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. If they can ground-and-pound, it will be a long day for the Sooners.
It’s disappointing this is just a semifinal game as I think these are the two best teams. If I’m Georgia, I worry about falling behind early. Their offense isn’t geared for big comebacks. If Oklahoma gets up big early, the Bulldogs’ running game becomes an afterthought and if that happens it’s game over.”- Storm Gifford