Lincoln Riley offers up an interesting take on Georgia's defense following high-scoring Rose Bowl
After gameplanning for weeks and eventually facing the Georgia defense in the National Semifinal Rose Bowl last season, Lincoln Riley clearly has respect for the Bulldog defense. However, he has an interesting thought on just how well Kirby Smart’s defense would rank if Georgia had to play against Big 12 offenses on a regular basis.
For the record, Georgia’s defense ranked 11th in the nation according to the S&P+ ratings, 6th in national scoring defense and 19th in the nation on stopping opponents on third down. All quality stats that helped the Bulldogs win the SEC Championship and reach the National Championship Game last season in a season in which the team started a true freshman at quarterback.
Despite the accomplishments of Georgia’s defense, Riley offered up this thought during his Tuesday appearance on ESPNU Sirius XM radio — the Bulldog defense wouldn’t rank nearly as high if they played in the Big 12. Given his first-hand knowledge of Georgia’s defense, his word carries a little bit more weight than others — especially when you consider the stats Oklahoma put up on the Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl.
The Sooners gained 24 first downs, 531 total yards, 289 passing yards, 242 rushing yards with one interception and 48 total points (although seven came on defense with a scoop and score and the final three came in overtime on a field goal). Following the success of his offense, Riley offered up this take on Tuesday:
"If you throw Georgia in the Big 12 every year there is no way they are a Top 5 defense in the country"
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) July 3, 2018
It didn’t take long before Riley’s comment blew up and was teased as a “shot” at the Georgia defense.
The Oklahoma coach denied that take and offered up an additional comment upon seeing his words were being twisted.
That’s not a shot at Georgia….they were absolutely one of the best defenses last year…it’s a compliment to our league-
— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) July 3, 2018
The point being made by Riley is the Big 12 contains several offenses capable of hurting defenses, something the SEC is currently lacking overall at the moment. While he’s probably correct, the real issue the Big 12 would face if Georgia was put into the league would be stopping the Bulldogs on offense. While Oklahoma’s offense may have put on a show for a half against Georgia in the Rose Bowl, the Bulldogs 317 rushing yards in the game were no fluke, either.
Once the Bulldogs wore down the Sooner defense, they caved and cost the team a shot at a national championship that evening in Pasadena. That’s something even the offensive-minded Riley would probably concede.