Rose Bowl – Georgia Bulldogs vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Date and Time: Monday, January 1, 2017, 5 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, CA
Opening Rose Bowl Odds: Georgia -1
Rose Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN
Georgia is one of the two teams in America that can say it beat every single team on its schedule. The Bulldogs were clocked when they were the No. 1 team in the nation at Auburn, but they avenged that loss in the SEC Championship Game and now have two games left to win to claim an unpredictable National Championship.
The Dawgs started this year thinking they were going to have an awfully balanced offense between Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running the ball and Jacob Eason throwing it. But Eason got hurt in the first game of the season, giving way to freshman Jake Fromm.
Fromm had plenty of ups and downs over the course of the year, but UGA kept winning with him under center, making everyone in Athens forget about the former five-star recruit who effectively was Wally Pipped.
The longer the season wore on, the more unbelievable Oklahoma's loss to Iowa State became. The Sooners were 31-point favorites in that game and held a 24-13 halftime lead but ended up losing 38-31.
That said, Oklahoma has put together some awfully impressive victories this season, and its inclusion into the College Football Playoff was never in doubt. The Sooners had some good scheduling fortune by getting Oklahoma State and TCU at home, but they also went on the road and beat Ohio State, the best road victory for any team in the CFP this year.
The Sooners are bringing the Heisman Trophy winner to Pasadena as well. Baker Mayfield had some antics that hurt his reputation, from planting the crimson and cream flag in the middle of Ohio State's logo to grabbing his crotch and giving some choice words over to the Kansas bench. That said, he was easily the top player in the nation this year, breaking the FBS record for yards per pass attempt in a season at 11.8 and tossing 41 touchdowns.
If Oklahoma ends up winning this game, there's a chance Mayfield could throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns this season, though that would take two fabulous offensive games to be the case.
Can Oklahoma make Fromm throw the football? If so, Kirby Smart is going to have his hands full managing his freshman in the biggest game of his career.
Fromm only threw the ball 244 times this season, and he only threw it more than 26 times twice. One of those games was the win over Notre Dame in his first career start. The other came against Auburn on the Plains.
We just don't know if Fromm has come-from-behind ability in him. The Bulldogs haven't trailed often this year, and even when they have, they've been able to lean on their two star running backs to get them to the finish line. But if Chubb and Michel, who combined for 2,123 yards and 26 touchdowns this year, are slowed down or rendered useless by the Oklahoma defense, Georgia is in some real trouble.
Rose Bowl Free Picks
We just don't understand what any of the top online sportsbooks are thinking here by lining UGA as a favorite in this game. Is the SEC really that much better of a conference than any other in the nation? We don't think so.
The Bulldogs have played great defense all season long, but there's no way they're keeping Mayfield and company off the scoreboard for very long. This is going to have to be a game played into at least the 50s, you'd like to think, and that just doesn't suit Georgia very well.
We'll take our chances with the team we perceive to be better and better by a substantial amount, especially since we don't have to lay any lumber to get it on our side.
Rose Bowl ATS Pick: Oklahoma +1 at BookMaker.eu
Rose Bowl Score Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Georgia 20