The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners face off in the Rose Bowl, which is a weird setting for a Big 12 and SEC team. The last time that the Rose Bowl didn’t feature either a Pac-12 or Big Ten team was 2002, when Miami destroyed then-Big 12 member Nebraska 37-14.
With all their talent, Oklahoma is unlikely to suffer a similar fate as the Cornhuskers. But can they get by the second-seeded Bulldogs to make the national title game? Let’s find out by looking at the odds from our GTBets sportsbook along with the keys for each team winning this game.
2018 College Football Playoff Odds for Rose Bowl (Jan 1 at 5:00pm ET)
Georgia vs Oklahoma Point Spread
Georgia -1 (-120)
Oklahoma +1 (+100)
Over 60 (-110)
Under 60 (-110)
Key Factors for Georgia
This season certainly hasn’t been easy for Georgia. Starting quarterback Jacob Eason hurt his knee in this season opener and missed a significant amount of time.
Few expected the Bulldogs to be in this position, given that true freshman Jake Fromm took over the offense. However, Fromm quickly engineered a victory over Notre Dame in his first start. He’s also played pretty well throughout the entire season.
George ran out to a 9-0 start, only to have Auburn end their perfect season. The Bulldogs didn’t hang their heads, though, getting revenge on the Tigers in the SEC Championship.
This victory was especially impressive given that Georgia won in a 28-7 blowout. They were also able to end Alabama’s dominance over the conference.
The Auburn game is a perfect example of why Georgia stands a chance of beating any team in the country, including the Sooners. They outgained the Tigers 421-259 in yardage, won the rushing battle 238-114, and also forced two turnovers while giving up none.
Overall, Georgia has outgained and outrushed 12 its 13 opponents. Their defense has also held 10 teams to 14 points or less.
The Bulldogs are a complete team that’s in the College Football Playoff for a reason. They’re not going to wow you with stars and award finalists. But they can overwhelm you as a collective unit.
The big key for Georgia will be how their defense holds up against Mayfield and Oklahoma. Georgia features the fourth-best defense in the nation, and they’re ranked second nationally to Alabama in passing yards allowed her attempt (5.58 yards).
Missouri’s Drew Lock showed that it’s possible to pass on this secondary. However, J.R. Reed, Dominick Sanders and Deandre Baker will all be at the top of their game for this high-profile contest.
Key Factors for Oklahoma
Every conversation regarding Oklahoma begins with their quarterback, Baker Mayfield. The Austin, Texas native came to the Sooners as a mere walk-on. Four years later, he’s now the biggest star in college football and has a chance to lead his team to a national title.
However, the Sooners had few believers at the beginning of the season. It wasn’t until they beat Ohio State convincingly on the road that they gained serious attention.
People would lose faith again when Oklahoma lost to Iowa State in October. But this Cyclones team has proven to be pretty good. Nobody is doubting the Sooners now, especially the way they’ve rattled off seven wins in a row.
Oklahoma capped off their strong regular season with a 17-0 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Championship. They outgained TCU 461-317, including a 218-83 rushing advantage. If Oklahoma can get this kind of ground support against Georgia, it’s likely that they move onto the CFP Championship.
Another key for the Sooners will be how their offensive line protects Mayfield. Odds are that they’ll hold up, given that they’ve done a good job of blocking for Mayfield and the running backs all season.
Prediction on Georgia vs Oklahoma
Between this game and the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson, I see this one being the least closest.
Georgia has no doubt had an excellent season, especially when considering that they lost their starting quarterback early. But it’s arguable that they’re not even the best team in the SEC, let alone the nation.
I think that the Bulldogs’ defense can slow Mayfield a bit. But the likely Heisman candidate will probably still light up the Rose Bowl.
In what’s being billed as a matchup of offense vs. defense, I like Mayfield and the Sooners’ offense by a comfortable margin.
Final Score Prediction: Oklahoma 36, Georgia 19