Based on my prediction history I’m the last guy you want taking Oklahoma to the bank of Oklahoma. Remember, I once worked for the Los Angeles Times, which was rudely taken over by the Chicago Tribune, which once rolled front-page presses with “Dewey Defeats Truman.” You talk about “Fake News.” That said, I am putting my faith in an Oklahoma team coached by a guy who looks like Opie Taylor and may be younger than his starting quarterback.
5: The SEC is overrated. Blasphemy! But look at the bowl records. If it wasn’t for the Pac 12 stinking so badly, we’d be talking about the SEC being 1-3, right? Also, Georgia won the SEC East, which is almost like winning a gold fish at the county fair. One reason I like Jeff Sagarin’s ratings in USA Today is he ranks conferences by divisions, which means the mediocre SEC East can’t draft off the superior SEC West. According to Sagarin, Georgia won the NINTH best division in college football. The SEC East is sandwiched between the Pac South (8) and the West division of American Athletic (10), a “Group of 5” conference. Yes, Georgia scored a nice, one-point, non-conference win at Notre Dame. But Stanford, which lost to San Diego State, recently crushed Notre Dame. Georgia also got to the playoff without having to face playoff-team Alabama.
4: Oklahoma’s defense? Ok, Rankman, now you’ve completely flipped, but hear me out. When you own the nation’s top offense, as the Sooners do, you only have to play decent defense to win the scoreboard. Oklahoma’s defense was, unarguably, horrible earlier in the season, allowing 523 total yards to Baylor and 661 to Oklahoma State. But DC Mike Stoops’ unit has improved of late, at least according to the propaganda fed to us by the post-season media guide. Since Nov. 11, the Sooners defense has led the Big 12 in fewest average yards allowed (320.8), passing yards allowed (190.8), passing TDs allowed (3) and scoring defense (17.8).
3: Experience at quarterback. Georgia is playing a true freshman at the most critical position on the field. Jake Fromm has been terrific since taking over from Jacob Eason, winning all kinds of accolades. But my axiom has held true since 1985–you can’t win a national title with a true freshman at QB. Ironically, or interestingly, the last guy do to it was Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway. And he only became the starter because Troy Aikman broke his leg. And boy, did Alabama’s Jalen Hurts test my theory last year yet, in the end, it was Clemson “veteran” Deshaun Watson who prevailed. If the Oklahoma Sooners are smart, and I think they are, they will load the line of scrimmage to stop Georgia’s terrific running game and make Fromm beat them with his arm. If he does, tip your cap and give the dog (Uga) his bone.
2: Oklahoma won’t be intimidated by the big stage, or the SEC. Georgia hasn’t won a national title since 1980. Oklahoma won the third BCS title contested, in 2000, and are looking for their fifth national title-game appearance of the millennium. Lincoln Riley is a young, first-year coach, but Oklahoma is still shadowed by the presence of Bob Stoops, who remains a powerful force and is a noted SEC barb tosser. Oklahoma is 4-0 against the SEC in the last five years, winning by an average of 15.3 points. Oklahoma has defeated Alabama and Auburn in recent Sugar Bowls. Georgia, despite being in the SEC, has played Alabama only twice since 2008. Oklahoma, under Stoops, also won the 2003 Rose Bowl with a win over Washington State.
1: Oklahoma has the best player on the field in Baker Mayfield. If you think a game is going to be close, go with the team that has the best player. Mayfield won this year’s Heisman Trophy in a landslide and has a complete quarterback tool kit. He is a fiery leader and competitor who threw for 41 touchdowns this season. He can also move in the pocket, beat you with his legs, and spike a ball in your face. Mayfield has been sick this week but the expectation is he will be fine once he runs out of the Rose Bowl tunnel. “We’re confident in where Baker’s at and being ready to play well for us tomorrow,” Riley said at Sunday’s final Rose Bowl press conference.