Only two more games separate the four remaining college football playoff teams from achieving the ultimate glory of a national championship. The first of these two games is the Rose Bowl (January 1 @ 5 PM ET), which pits No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs against No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners in a match-up that has never been seen before.
One of the biggest and proudest of all college football traditions is the Rose Bowl, which is a New Year’s Day staple. Considered to be the oldest of all of the bowl games, the Rose Bowl was first played in 1902 and has been played annually ever since 1916.
Because of its age, tradition and overall importance, the Rose Bowl has come to be referred to as “The Granddaddy of Them All.” But this year is certainly not your granddaddy’s Rose Bowl. Largely because for the first time since the end of the 2001 season, which is when the Rose Bowl began to be involved in a rotation of sites to host the national championship under the old BCS system, neither a Pac-12 or Big-10 team will be competing in the tournament.
Beginning in 1947, the PCC (now Pac-12) and Big Nine (now Big 10) entered into an exclusive deal with the Rose Bowl in that each season, the conference champions from both conferences would play each other. This agreement remains in place with the exception of seasons like this one, where the Rose Bowl plays host to one of the college football semifinals.
This year’s Rose Bowl will be iconic as not only is it the first time in almost 20 years that the Big-10 and Pac-12 will be without representation, but it will also mark the site of the first ever meeting in college football history, between the SEC’s Georgia and the Big-12’s Oklahoma.
Road to the Roses: Oklahoma
It’s hard to believe that four years ago, a kid named Baker Mayfield, walked onto the field at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, just hoping to land a job with the team after transferring from Texas Tech. He had no promise of a scholarship. Mayfield was just a kid with a dream of playing professional football one day.
Now, nearly four years later, Mayfield is the defending Heisman Trophy winner and the star of college football’s best offense. Mayfield posted a 71 completion percentage, over 4,300 yards through the air and 41 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. It was an incredible performance of grit and power all season long, made even more impressive knowing how Mayfield’s Oklahoma career began.
Mayfield and his offensive coordinator turned head coach, Lincoln Riley, proved themselves to be a remarkable and formidable duo this year, shredding opposing defenses and making it look easy. Under the leadership of Riley and talent of Mayfield, the Sooners led the nation’s fourth most potent offense, averaging just under 45 points per game. Looking from a purely passing standpoint, the Sooners’ 12 yards per pass attempt average is not just the best in college football this year, but the best of all-time.
The team lost just one game all season long and was among one of the hottest teams, having won eight in a row, to enter the postseason.
Road to the Roses: Georgia
At the beginning of the season, if you had to pick the team to win the SEC, for most, that pick probably would have not been Georgia. Then, if asked that same questions after week one, where starting quarterback Jacob Eason was lost to injury, it’s hard to believe anybody would have picked the Bulldogs to make their way to the top of arguably the toughest conference in college football. But they did and here we are.
Under second year head coach Kirby Smart, who was a former assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama, the Bulldogs found their niche and excelled in the SEC. Georgia lost just once all season, even if it was a bad one to Auburn. The team more than made up for it when they returned the favor, knocking Auburn out of the playoff picture by defeating them in the conference championship game.
Without Eason, true freshman Jake Fromm took over the reins and did an admirable job, posting a 63 completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. But the real star for Georgia was their three-headed rushing attack (ranked sixth in total yards and 10th in yards per attempt) led by senior running back, Nick Chubb.
Chubb played the second best season of his college career, rushing for 1,175 yards on 191 attempts for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. He also had 13 touchdowns, which again was just one shy of his previous career best which he achieved his freshman season. His backfield mate, Sony Michel, added 13 touchdowns on his own and rushed for 948 yards. Freshman D’Andre Swift rounded out the trio. While he didn’t receive as many carries as his counterparts, Swift was the most explosive back on the roster, averaging 8.2 yards per attempt.
Defense has also been instrumental in getting the Bulldogs to the semifinal as they boast the nation’s third best overall defense, allowing just 13.2 points per game, second best passing defense (allowing 5.6 yards per attempt and 158.3 yards per game). Only twice this season has Georgia given up more than 20 points to an opponent.
Our Preview’s Georgia Bulldogs vs Oklahoma Sooners Picks & Predictions for the Rose Bowl
This game pits Oklahoma’s top offense against Georgia’s top defense but the real deciding factor will be the battle between Georgia’s pretty good run offense and Oklahoma’s woeful defense.
Of the teams in the playoff, Oklahoma has by far the worst defense, ranking 81st in the nation in yards allowed and 62nd when it comes to run defense. The Big-12 is a passing conference so not only has Oklahoma not faced any running backs as good as what they will see on Monday, but they haven’t even faced anything close. The Sooners gave up major rushing yards to much worse backs than Chubb, Michel and Swift, but yet, they continued to win.
So this preview comes to its Rose Bowl predictions and Georgia Bulldogs vs Oklahoma Sooners picks. Here are our recommended wagers, that will hopefully leave help us to a profitable new year courtesy of the best rated online sports betting sites for American players:
- This is a classic battle of offense meets defense and no one in the country has been able to keep up with Oklahoma yet and it is doubtful that changes now. Our first Rose Bowl betting prediction is to take the Sooners to top the 2.5 spread favored to Georgia by walking away with the victory. We like the look of the +3pts that one bookie offers, so bet Oklahoma +3pts @ -115 with Bookmaker.
- If this is an Oklahoma win, it’s going to be because Georgia just couldn’t keep up. So our other pick is to bet over a 60-point total @ -110 with 5Dimes. Most other sportsbooks have a slightly higher points line than that.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.