It’s not just the epic great offense versus great defense aspect — it’s balanced versus unbalanced.
Among this year’s four playoff teams, three are extraordinarily balanced: Alabama, Georgia and Clemson each rank among the nation’s top 10 in efficiency on both offense and defense.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, is a study in imbalance.
Not only do the Sooners have the best offense of 2017, but the difference between their offensive efficiency and the second-ranked offenses (Alabama and Oklahoma State) is about the same as the difference between No. 2 and No. 10 Central Florida’s. Since the playoff started four seasons ago, the only offense remotely close to being as efficient as Oklahoma’s belonged to Oregon in 2014 — and the Ducks weren’t really that close to the Sooners.
At the same time, the Oklahoma defense is easily the worst of any playoff team. The Sooners allowed 25 points and nearly 385 yards of total offense per game this season. They rank 59th in the country in defensive efficiency. It’s safe to say that Oklahoma has the most one-dimensional profile of any team to ever make the College Football Playoff.
Does that matter? Well, maybe.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Sooners are primed for a playoff letdown. Oklahoma has the best quarterback in the country (Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield) and a host of other weapons that can make opposing defenses pay. Their stat sheet could give any defensive coordinator a heart attack. (This is, after all, a team that surpassed 600 yards of total offense in more than half of its games!)
But it’s also worth noting that in three years of playoff action, the more efficient defense won 67 percent of its games, while the superior offense won only 56 percent. Even if those numbers are skewed by Alabama’s success as a defensive juggernaut, the Tide have won with defense for a reason. Oklahoma will have to buck that trend if they want to prove that a great offense can win, too.
I think the conclusion hits directly at what Oklahoma wants to happen and what Georgia wants to avoid.
… But perhaps Oklahoma’s best chance against the Bulldogs is to use its dominating offense to jump out to an early lead, then hope its defense can force Fromm into freshman mistakes while playing from behind. Between Georgia’s impressive balance and Oklahoma’s shaky defense, however, that might be a task easier said than done.
From your lips, brother. From your lips…