Rose Bowl Recap: This Game Wasn’t About Georgia’s Defense or Baker Mayfield
On Saturday morning, I postulated that billing the Georgia / Oklahoma matchup as “Baker Mayfield vs. Georgia’s Defense” was shortsighted. I theorized that the real storyline wouldn’t be who won that battle between Baker and the Savage Dawgs. The game would actually come down to the other side of possessions.
As it turns out, I think that was correct. In fairness to the Georgia defense, it ultimately responded and made the plays Bulldogs needed to come back. I’m going to write about that later today. But I don’t think the Dawgs were savage enough defensively to simplify the narrative to Georgia won this game on defense. I do think, however, you could make a case for Georgia winning it offensively.
In Saturday’s article I projected a yards-per-play output of 6.33 for Oklahoma. This was well below the Sooners’ season-long (and nation-leading) average of 8.3 yards per play. As it turns out, Oklahoma did slightly better than that projection and racked up 6.56 yards per play.
But Georgia also handily out-performed my projection for its offensive yards per play. I projected the Bulldogs picking up 7.84 yards per play. They actually picked up 8.37. That’s unreal. In the biggest game of the season, Georgia’s offense performed at a staggering level of efficiency.
For context, consider Georgia’s yards-per-play outputs this year. Look how damn strong Fromm, Chubb, Michel, Wims, etc. were in the Rose Bowl:
- Auburn (First Game): 3.07 Yards Per Play
- Notre Dame: 4.53 Yards Per Play
- Tennessee: 5.25 Yards Per Play
- App State: 5.75 Yards Per Play
- South Carolina: 5.84 Yards Per Play
- Samford: 6.65 Yards Per Play
- Auburn (Second Game): 6.68 Yards Per Play
- Mississippi State: 7.48 Yards Per Play
- Georgia Tech: 7.85 Yards Per Play
- Vanderbilt: 8.07 Yards Per Play
- Oklahoma: 8.37 Yards Per Play
- Kentucky: 8.68 Yards Per Play
- Missouri: 9.03 Yards Per Play
- Florida: 9.36 Yards Per Play
You could blame that offensive dominance solely on Oklahoma’s weakness on defense, but that too requires further examination. The Sooner defense was suspect at best coming into this game, but Georgia’s 8.37 yards per play ticked almost 30% higher (well, 28.77%) than Oklahoma’s defensive mediocrity would typically mandate. And look at how that figure compares to Oklahoma’s other games (as measured by yards allowed per play):
- Kansas: 2.54 Yards Allowed Per Play
- UTEP: 3.48 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Tulane: 3.93 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Ohio State: 5.07 Yards Allowed Per Play
- TCU (Second Game): 5.20 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Texas: 5.22 Yards Allowed Per Play
- West Virginia: 5.54 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Baylor: 6.15 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Texas Tech: 6.24 Yards Allowed Per Play
- TCU (First Game); 6.95 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Kansas State: 7.36 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Oklahoma State: 7.51 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Iowa State: 7.61 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Georgia: 8.37 Yards Allowed Per Play
Georgia’s offense was better and more efficient than any offense Oklahoma faced this year. Period. How’s that for narrative destruction? Turns out the Big 12 can’t play offense like the SEC.
And what’s unreal is how Georgia did this to Oklahoma.
The Bulldogs ran the ball more than they threw it, which is downright befuddling given the offense’s staggering output. A team total of 317 rushing yards on just 34 attempts is ridiculous in and of itself, but it’s downright unfathomable when isolated for Georgia’s top two backs.
- Sony Michel: 11 carries for 181 yards (16.5 yards per attempt) and 3 TDs.
- Nick Chubb: 14 carries for 145 yards (a mere 10.4 yards per attempt) and 2 TDs.
Michel and Chubb combined for seven runs of 20 or more yards. Twenty-eight percent of the two-headed monster’s attempts went for 20+ yards. That’s insane.
Oh, and Jake Fromm did Jake Fromm things. He completed 20 of 29 passes (a nice 69% completion percentage) for 210 yards, two TDs and no turnovers.
Javon Wims was every bit the reliable play-maker that he’s been all year long, and Georgia cruised.
I tweeted my confidence at halftime and most of that stemmed from the fact that I thought:
- Georgia’s defense would adjust, and
- I knew Oklahoma couldn’t contain Georgia’s offense.
The second point above was a theme for the entire game. The first point was a change in the second half. That’s why I’m giving the game ball to the Georgia offense.
That’s all I got/