Will Georgia have more yards rushing or throwing against Oklahoma?
When the Rose Bowl kicks off on New Year’s Day, all eyes will be on the matchup between Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma offense and a Georgia defense featuring star linebacker Roquan Smith.
However, the opposite matchup — Georgia’s offense vs. Oklahoma’s defense — could ultimately decide the outcome of the College Football Playoff semifinal.
So, that raises the question: Will Jake Fromm and the Georgia passing game have more yards, or will Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the Bulldogs’ ground attack?
This year, the Bulldogs are averaging nearly 100 more rushing yards per game than passing yards (263.5 to 170.1), so on the surface this would appear to be an easy question. However, the Sooners know what they need to do to stop the Bulldogs, so they’ve likely been spending a lot of time working on stopping the run.
It also depends on whether the Bulldogs can keep Oklahoma off the scoreboard, as Georgia is much better at leading than coming from behind. So, the first quarter will play a huge factor in what kind of game it is going to be for coordinator Jim Chaney’s offense.
With the Sooners focusing on stopping the run, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Georgia try to beat Oklahoma through the air early, meaning true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm will be the most important player in this game — even more than Mayfield.
Fromm’s best game of the season came against Mizzou, when he threw for 326 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to help hand the Tigers their fifth straight loss. Mizzou, obviously, turned things around after that game, but the Tigers were not a strong defensive team at the time.
Chaney isn’t afraid to push the envelope with his young quarterback, though. In September, the Bulldogs connected on a 60-yard flea flicker to open a game against Mississippi State. As you can see below, the play caught MSU completely off-guard and worked to perfection:
Well … that was quick. pic.twitter.com/u2hgFCCf65
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2017
While the Sooners will be ready for the trick play early, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Bulldogs come out with an aggressive passing plan.
Chubb and Michel should find lanes to run the ball, but Fromm needs to establish a rhythm early to keep Georgia in the game. As good as Georgia’s defense is, the Sooners are going to score at least 20 points.
Freshman running back D’Andre Swift is just as good as a receiver as he is as a running back, so if Fromm can get him the ball and work his favorite target — senior wide receiver Javon Wims — into the game plan, Georgia can better control the tempo.
Going ahead early is going to be the key for the Bulldogs, but even if they do, they won’t be able to take their foot off the gas pedal against Mayfield and the high-octane Sooner offense.
Bottom line? If the Bulldogs want to advance to the national championship game, Fromm will need to have a huge effort in the Sugar Bowl. The freshman will surprise everyone when he goes over 300 yards passing again to lead the Bulldogs to a Rose Bowl victory.