The talk going into the Rose Bowl is the Bulldogs stout defense against the Sooners potent offense, but special teams may be the difference in this game and statistically, it seems to be a huge advantage for Georgia.
Special teams play a large role in the battle for starting field position and the Bulldogs hold a clear advantage over the Sooners in both kicking the ball off and punting. Both the Sooners and Bulldogs are ranked in the top five of kickoff touchbacks, but the Bulldogs are ranked 50th in the nation when it comes to their opponents kickoff return average, with 20 yards surrendered on each kickoff, while the Sooners are ranked 92nd with 22.63 yards surrendered.
The Bulldogs have become more and more explosive as the season has progressed in returning the ball on kickoffs and rank 16th in the nation in the category. They gain an average of 24.62 yards on each kickoff return, which is around five yards better than the 94th ranked Sooners who gain 19.64 yards. Five yards may not seem like a large amount, but small advantages like this could play a huge difference in the outcome of the game.
The Bulldogs also hold the advantage when it comes to their ability to effectively return punts as they average around 9.12 yards per punt return, which ranks them 39th in punt return average. The Sooners however, struggle in this area as they only average 5.69 yards on each of their punt returns. As mentioned before, this may seem like a small margin but these areas add up on the field.
The final area to consider is punt defense and this category is one that the Bulldogs hold a huge advantage. The Bulldogs give up an average of 5.36 yards on each punt return which ranks them 36th in the nation. However, the Sooners are 127th in the country, which means they are the third worst team when it comes to defending the punt as they give up an average of 15.71 yards.
By my calculations, the Bulldogs hold around a 21 yard average in this crucial area of play and it could play a sizeable role in the game’s outcome. If the defense of the Bulldogs and the Sooners offense end in a stalemate, then special teams could be the ultimate tie-breaker and the Bulldogs seem to hold the advantage in this area.
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