In case you were wondering, it looks like Georgia’s gonna get Oklahoma’s best shot.
Category Archives: Big 12 Football
What happens when you give Mayfield time to throw? About what you’d expect.
I’d really appreciate it somebody could start tossing out a few examples of when he craps the bed. Assuming they exist, that is.
Over at CBSSports.com, Ben Kercheval lays out three reasons to favor Oklahoma over Georgia, while Barrett Sallee goes the opposite way. (Interestingly, both agree that the Rose Bowl winner will go on to take the national championship.)
There’s a certain amount of touchy-feeliness in both pundits’ analyses that I can’t take straight. When you’re having to make Kercheval’s “Oklahoma’s defense ain’t that bad” in the context of a national semi-final game, you’re on shaky ground — is there any other unit in the CFP one has to make excuses for? — and I can’t help but cringe at Sallee’s “Georgia, team of destiny” pitch.
Mixed in, though, are some Pro Football Focus rankings that reinforce how deep and diverse the Sooners’ offense is. Look at their top receivers:
Receivers Jeff Badet, Mykel Jones and CeeDee Lamb rank in the top 15 nationally, respectively, in wide receiver rating* and in the top 10 in offensive success rating (i.e. the percentage of targets that go for a positive play). Additionally, Marquise Brown, the team’s leading receiver with 981 yards, averages 20 yards per reception. That’s fourth-best among receivers who have at least 40 catches on the season.
Take a look at how PFF has them ranked among wideouts with 200+ snaps.
Oklahoma WR Rec. Yds. TDs Pos. Rating (rank) Success Rate % (rank) Jeff Badet 27 400 3 150 (2) 59.4 (7) CeeDee Lamb 39 724 7 140.8 (4) 59.3 (8) Mykel Jones 16 310 1 135.4 (12) 65 (3) Marquise Brown 50 987 6 131.9 (20) 48.6 (75)
Four of the top twenty nationally? Whew.
And while we naturally assume Georgia has the advantage at running back, perhaps it’s not as big a gap as we perceive it to be.
Here’s a look at how Pro Football Focus ranks the top running backs in the College Football Playoff.
Player School PFF Grade Nick Chubb Georgia 88.2 Trey Sermon Oklahoma 84.1 Rodney Anderson Oklahoma 83.5 Damien Harris Alabama 82.8 Sony Michel Georgia 82.3
That’s a 2-2 tie. Yes, D’Andre Swift makes for a formidable number three, but Abdul Adams hasn’t exactly been a slacker for Oklahoma in that department, although he has had some injury issues.
Let’s just say we’re going to see a lot of firepower next Monday. Maybe I should buy into that team of destiny stuff a little more.
I’m going to try to make this simple for those of you who continue to have sugarplum visions of the 2008 Sugar Bowl dancing around in your heads: against Sagarin’s #28 strength of schedule, Baker Mayfield’s worst passer rating of the 2017 season (167.08, against Texas Tech) exceeded Colt Brennan’s passer rating for the 2007-8 season (159.8) against Sagarin’s #132 strength of schedule.
It’s not a close call.
That’s not to say Georgia’s defense faces an impossible task, just that it won’t be a walk in the park.
And while I’m raining on some of y’all’s parades, one other bit of wishful thinking that needs to be knocked down is the idea that Mayfield’s going to throw a pick or two, just because he throws the ball a lot. It’ll take more than that. Both teams have been good at protecting the ball.
Georgia and Oklahoma each had a plus-five turnover margins this season. The Bulldogs committed 13 turnovers while forcing 18, and the Sooners committed 12 turnovers while forcing 17. Turnovers always matter, but with two disciplined offenses, they could be a game-changer. That puts more pressure on Mayfield and Georgia’s Jake Fromm to protect the football. Keep in mind, in their respective losses this season, the Sooners and Bulldogs each had a minus-one turnover margin. A plus-two turnover margin in this game, then — for either team — could be the difference.
Despite that Mayfield has attempted 139 more passes than has Jake Fromm, both go into the Rose Bowl with only five interceptions on the season.
I think Bender makes a good point that because both teams have been disciplined with regard to turnovers, interceptions and fumbles may have a magnified effect. That’s a long way from counting on Baker Mayfield to wilt in the face of Georgia’s defense and turn into a pick machine, though.
I’ve long maintained that one of the best things about the Internet is more times than not you can count on somebody else doing the heavy lifting for you. I had an idea about a post digging into how much Oklahoma’s offense was able to take the pressure off its defense with explosive starts, when, lo and behold, I find that Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara up and took care of that hard work for me.
Look at how quickly Oklahoma jumped out to 3-possession leads after that Iowa State loss:
- Oct. 14 vs. Texas — 20-0, 4:32 in 2Q
- Oct. 28 vs. Texas Tech — 49-27, 1:41 in 3Q
- Nov. 12 vs. TCU — 24-7, 11:45 in 2Q
- Nov. 19 vs. Kansas — 21-3, 0:10 in 2Q
- Nov. 25 vs. West Virginia — 21-3, 13:08 in 2Q
- Dec. 2 vs. TCU — 17-0, 2:29 in 1Q
So in six of their final eight game of the season, they benefited from jumping out to those leads. Let me rephrase that. Oklahoma’s run defense* benefited.
The two games in that stretch that Oklahoma didn’t balloon it out to a 3-possession lead were Kansas State (41st rushing offense) and Oklahoma State (47th rushing offense). In those matchups — when it actually had to defend against 2-dimensional offenses — Oklahoma allowed over 6 yards per carry and 200 rushing yards in each contest.
You know Jim Chaney is going to stick with the run, even in the face of another defense loading the box and daring Fromm to throw. It’s been his MO all season, even when the going is slow early on, with one exception. Do Georgia’s special teams and defense keep his usual game plan on track?
I’m starting to think the key stat to track
Saturday Monday is pass attempts. Against D-1 competition, Mayfield averages a little over 28 attempts per game; Fromm averages a little over 18 apg. If both hit their averages, which team is more likely to win?
So, this comment got me wondering about how Georgia and Oklahoma match up in the red zone.
- Georgia: 6th (TD% – 29th)
- Oklahoma: 17th (TD% – 15th)
- Georgia: 35th (TD% – 4th)
- Oklahoma: 94th (TD% – 60th)
Well now. If the Dawgs can swap a red zone touchdown or two on their end for Oklahoma field goals…
We all know Georgia’s mantra on defense is preventing the big gain. That mantra is going to be sorely tested in the Rose Bowl.
First off, here’s where the Dawgs stand nationally in D-1 opponents’ long plays from scrimmage:
- 10+ yards: 2nd
- 20+ yards: 9th
- 30+ yards: 9th
- 40+ yards: 9th
That is solid and consistent. So, what are they up against? Oklahoma’s rankings in D-1 long plays from scrimmage:
- 10+ yards: 1st
- 20+ yards: 1st
- 30+ yards: 1st
- 40+ yards: 1st
That’s downright ridiculous.
Oh, yeah — I didn’t bother to go out beyond 40+ yards, because of sample size. Georgia’s only given up three plays of 50+ yards all season. Oklahoma’s offense, though, has notched 21 of those suckers. Yikes.
The flip side looks pretty dynamic, too.
The Sooners’ national rankings in D-1 opponents’ long plays from scrimmage:
- 10+ yards: 81st
- 20+ yards: 77th
- 30+ yards: 117th
- 40+ yards: 103rd
And Georgia’s national rankings in D-1 long plays from scrimmage:
- 10+ yards: 42nd
- 20+ yards: 16th
- 30+ yards: 18th
- 40+ yards: 47th
Two conclusions to draw from the numbers: one, that strategy of Georgia grinding it out on offense to keep Baker Mayfield and Company off the field sounds great in theory, but in practice there’s a decent likelihood the ball is going to be moving up and down the field like crazy all day.
Oh, and two? I’d keep those bathroom breaks short while you’re watching the game. Otherwise, you might miss something.