It’s fair to say that Georgia hasn’t faced an offense quite like Oklahoma’s this season. Beyond the fact that Baker Mayfield is insanely good, who else will UGA have to account for?
CC Machine: Running back Rodney Anderson is definitely the first player who comes to mind. Over Oklahoma’s last seven games, Anderson has rushed for 878 yards and has averaged 6.27 yards per carry in those contests. He also definitely has a nose for the end zone, as he’s scored 14 total touchdowns (nine rushing, five receiving) during that span.
The 6’2”, 220-pound back possesses the combination of size and speed that makes pro-scouts drool, and he’s been opening eyes since becoming fully healthy midway through the season. Atlanta-area freshman Trey Sermon has also been solid throughout the season, and he’s someone who’s often called upon to carry the load when defenses start to wear down. He’s not necessarily a burner, but he’s a strong back with outstanding vision and balance.
As far as Mayfield’s targets are concerned, Mackey Award winner Mark Andrews and sophomore speedstar Marquise Brown are two of the primary weapons. Andrews is just a complete matchup nightmare because of his size, speed and agility, and the diminutive Brown is one of the fastest guys you’ll see with the ball in his hands. Freshman CeeDee Lamb has outstanding hands and has made plenty of impactful catches catches this season.
Mykel Jones (a Louisiana native who picked OU over a good chunk of the top-tier SEC schools) has really come into his own as a slot receiver. Kentucky grad transfer Jeff Badet has also made his share of big plays this season, and he’s certainly capable of hitting a home run at any time. The most underrated target, however, is fullback/H-back Dimitri Flowers, who has been making clutch plays for his quarterback for the past three seasons.
It’s possible to suggest, as well, that Oklahoma hasn’t faced a defense quite like Georgia’s this year. What aspect, from that standpoint, do you worry about OU?
CC Machine: That’s definitely fair to an extent, but Ohio State’s front seven is certainly an elite group full of future NFL stars, and Oklahoma was able to do enough on the ground to keep Ohio State honest. However, they’ll need to do more than that against a Georgia. It’s worth noting that Anderson and Brown weren’t factors in Oklahoma’s offense at that point in the season, so that’s sort of an encouraging sign. Mark Andrews also missed the majority of that game with an injury.
It’s really going to be interesting to watch the good-on-good (or elite-on-elite) matchup between Oklahoma’s offensive line and UGA’s front seven. If OU’s offensive line can’t somewhat (consistently) get a push, that’ll force Oklahoma to throw the ball more often than they’d prefer. Keep in mind that Oklahoma has actually rushed more than they’ve thrown it by a margin of 104 attempts this season.
Georgia’s ground game is impressive. How does OU shake out as far as their run defense goes, and do they have what it takes to bottle up the Dawgs?
CC Machine: Georgia likes to run the ball outside pretty frequently, and Oklahoma has actually done a pretty good job defending against that this season (although they certainly haven’t faced anyone quite like Chubb and Michel). Oklahoma’s used three down linemen and four LBs for a good chunk of the season, and I’d expect that to be the case for much of Monday’s game in an effort to combat the outside threat.
The main concern for this run defense, however, has been between the tackles, as Kenneth Murray and Emmanuel Beal have often struggled with gap discipline. The group as a whole is physical and athletic enough to do their thing on the outside, but the key will be defending the inside run.
Who is the biggest difference maker for OU on either side of the ball?
CC Machine: It’s pretty tough to give any name other than that of the Heisman winner, but I guess I’d have to go with Orlando Brown. He’s started every game at left tackle for Oklahoma over the past three years and has been the key to keeping Mayfield’s pocket clean. The 6’8”, 345-pound Georgia native is pretty much a lock to go in the first round this coming spring.
How do you see the game turning out?
CC Machine: I would expect Lincoln Riley to break out some things that haven’t been shown throughout the season, which could allow Oklahoma to build an early lead. There’s a pretty good chance of Georgia wearing Oklahoma’s defense down late in the game, but I don’t think it’ll be quite enough in the end. Oklahoma 38, Georgia 31.