Los Angeles—Oklahoma has the Heisman Trophy winner (Baker Mayfield) and the No. 1 offense in all of college football at 583.3 yards per game. In the only game the Sooners lost this season (to Iowa State) they still scored 31 points.
So Monday night’s meeting in the Rose Bowl (5 p.m. ET) is the classic matchup of Oklahoma’s irresistible force on offense and Georgia’s immovable object on defense. Georgia is old school with a strong running game and athletic, opportunistic defense. Oklahoma is new wave with an offense that leaves everybody breathless.
So Monday’s Rose Bowl should be a classic. Here are five reasons I think Georgia comes out on top:
1—Nick Chubb/Sony Michel: At a school that is synonymous with great running backs, Chubb (4,599 yards) and Michel (3,359), are the No. 2 and No. 3 rushers all time at the University of Georgia behind Herschel Walker (5,259). Both deferred their NFL dreams because they wanted to play in this game. Chubb is a bruiser who almost always gets yards after contact. Michel is more versatile with more speed and is a threat in the passing game. Georgia’s ability to run the ball effectively on first and second down is a big reason why the Bulldogs are No. 7 nationally in third-down conversions (47 percent). With freshmen D’Andre Swift and sophomore Elijah Holyfield (son of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield), Georgia has four backs averaging over 5.8 yards per carry.
2—Lorenzo Carter/Davin Bellamy: Nobody in college football has two better outside linebackers than Carter and Bellamy, who will provide the most fierce pass rush that Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield have seen all season. Carter was a Butkus Award semifinalist and an All-SEC second-team player. Carter has 13.5 career sacks. Georgia had 26 sacks on the season. The speed of Carter and Bellamy from the outside has been a disrupting force for most opponents Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has a knack for escaping pressure. Carter and Bellamy have not seen a quarterback like him.
3—Roquan Smith: The reason Lorenzo Carter did not win the Butkus Award is because Roquan Smith did. The junior is coming off one of the best games in his career with 13 tackles (tying his career high), two fumble recoveries and a sack in the SEC championship game against Auburn. Smith is considered one of the best open field tacklers to ever play at Georgia. In fact, he did not miss a tackle on a running play all season. One of his assignments against Oklahoma will be to be close by when Mayfield escapes the pressure created by Carter and Bellamy.
4—Javon Wims: One of the biggest questions going into this season was whether or not someone was going to step up as a big-play wide receiver. That person turned out to be senior Javon Williams, a junior college transfer. Wims had only three starts and 17 catches as a junior at Georgia. But as a senior working with freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, Wims has been able to use his height (6-4) and athleticism. He made an athletic back shoulder catch for 17 yards and a touchdown against Florida.
5—The Senior Class: Running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb along with linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy could all be in the NFL right now making a whole lot of money. But all decided to return for their final season at Georgia because they believed a championship season was possible. And the rest of the Georgia team drew its energy and its confidence from the seniors. This team has won 12 of 13 games, an SEC East championship and an SEC championship. They are one win away from playing for the national championship just an hour from the UGA campus. If you believe in destiny, you believe that Georgia’s senior class will rise to this historic occasion.