10 bold predictions for Georgia-Oklahoma
The Georgia Bulldogs have taken a huge step forward in Kirby Smart’s second year at the helm of the program, winning an SEC title and qualifying for the College Football Playoff.
However, the real work is just getting started, as the Bulldogs now have to face Heisman Trophy-winning QB Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
There are sure to be plenty of fireworks in the matchup between two of the best teams in the country, as well as plenty of surprises.
Here are 10 bold predictions for what will happen on Monday afternoon in Pasadena:
1. Jake Fromm throws at least 3 TD passes
The talented true freshman has been solid for the Bulldogs this year, but he has only thrown three touchdown passes in a game once this year — in a Week 2 victory over Samford.
He’s also only eclipsed the 250-yard mark once, going for 326 against Mizzou in Week 7. However, he’s also played a lot of defenses better than Samford’s and Mizzou’s since then, so it’ll be nice for him to get out of the SEC and face a Big 12 defense.
Fromm needs to make some big plays for Georgia to win, and this should be a statement game for him.
2. The Bulldogs force an early interception
Heisman-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield doesn’t make many mistakes, but when he does, the Bulldogs will need to take advantage of them.
With a long layover since the Big 12 Championship and Mayfield having battled the flu this week, it’s likely that at least one of his first-quarter passes will be a bit off the mark. That’s when the Bulldogs need to pounce.
3. Roquan Smith will have multiple sacks
The Sooners have a solid offensive line, but they have let Mayfield get knocked around a bit. In fact, the Heisman winner has been sacked 21 times this year.
With Smith looking to put a stamp on his Georgia career before he likely heads off to the 2018 NFL Draft, he’ll be motivated to chase down Mayfield a couple of times on Monday afternoon.
4. The Bulldogs will get a TD on special teams
Mecole Hardman is a huge X factor in this game, as he can change the momentum either on offense or on special teams.
The Sooners will put up some points on Georgia, so Hardman should have a few opportunities to return kickoffs. Look for him to find a lane on one of them and bring it to the house.
5. Sony Michel will lead the Dawgs in rushing
That’s not to say Nick Chubb won’t also have a good game, but Michel has shown a knack for making big plays this year.
Michel is averaging 7.2 yards per carry to Chubb’s 6.2-yard average, with both having 13 touchdowns so far. However, much like in the game against Florida earlier this season, Michel will have a couple of big runs and finish the game with more rushing yards than Chubb.
6. Javon Wims will have at least 100 receiving yards
Wims has a connection with Fromm, as the senior leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards and touchdowns. He’ll need to get going early if Georgia is going to win.
Wims has yet to eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game this season, but Fromm is going to need to make some plays with his arm to beat Oklahoma, so it’s likely he’ll be looking Wims’s way early and often.
7. D’Andre Swift will have more yards receiving than rushing
The true freshman has been electric as both a runner (8.2 yards per carry) and as a receiver. However, with Chubb and Michel in either their last or second-to-last games in a Georgia uniform, they’ll handle the bulk of the work on the ground.
That said, Swift will still find a way to affect the game, as he has become a solid receiver this year, too. He’ll get more opportunities in the passing game on Monday afternoon, and he’s talented enough to make them count.
8. Georgia fans will show up in force
Yes, the Dawgs have to travel across the country for this game, but Georgia fans are so excited with the way things are going this year, a good number of them will make their way west.
The Rose Bowl is a big stadium, but it’ll probably be packed for Monday’s game. Look for the Bulldogs to have a sizable crowd advantage by kickoff.
9. Georgia will score 35 or more points
For the reasons mentioned above, Georgia is going to put up some points. Oklahoma’s defense is decent, but the Bulldogs’ offense is better.
The Rose Bowl won’t be a shootout like the Belk Bowl, where Wake Forest beat Texas A&M 55-52, but there should be points aplenty for both sides.
10. The Bulldogs will advance to the title game
This game will be a lot of fun, but at the end, expect Georgia to be ahead on the scoreboard.
Giving Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker nearly a full month to prepare for the Sooners’ offense will pay dividends, as the Bulldogs will get out to an early lead. That will allow them to use their ground game and elite defense to keep the Sooners from scoring as much as they’ll need to in order to advance.