Jeff Dantzler’s five keys for a Dawg’s victory in the College Football Playoff Semifinal Rose Bowl game between Georgia and Oklahoma in Pasadena, CA on January 1st, 2018.
1. Badger Baker:
Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield is an all-time great at Oklahoma, and the best quarterback the Bulldogs have faced since Cam Newton in 2010. Mayfield is extremely precise and accurate. He can make all the throws, is a great decision maker and is extremely mobile. It is essential for the Bulldogs to pressure Mayfield consistently and relentlessly, but also keep containment. That rotating defensive front will be a key, and Georgia must control the line when all the chips are on the table in the fourth quarter.
2. Run and Score:
Much like in the wins over Missouri and Tech, the burden will be on Georgia’s offense to score on every possession. Now Oklahoma’s defense is much more talented than Mizzou’s or the Jackets, but the Bulldogs front, stable of backs and Jake Fromm should be able to have success against the Sooners. OU can score so quickly, Georgia must be able to counterpunch, and must like in the SEC Championship Game, take control with the physicality of a powerful and electric running game.
3. Kicking Game Conquest:
With the exception of the loss on the Plains, Georgia has won the kicking game every other time out. That is a must against the Sooners. Oklahoma’s offense is arguably the very best in the nation, so Georgia can’t afford to give away any possessions or give the Sooners a short field. “Hot Rod” and “Cam” have to kick it great, Georgia must cover against the athletic Sooners, and it would be huge if Mecole Hardman could get loose on that picturesque Rose Bowl grass.
4. Penalties and Turnovers:
This is a basic for every game, but it goes double here. The stakes are enormous. Self-inflicted wounds will turn a dream into heartache. Georgia must win the turnover battle – a key in the SEC Championship Game – and cut down on the dad-blasted penalties. It’s been an Achilles heel all season. Both teams will have been off from game action for four weeks, so they’ll be fresh, but not necessarily crisp. Especially in the beginning.
5. Guys Be Guys:
When Georgia defeated Notre Dame 17-10 on January 1, 1981 to win the national championship in the Sugar Bowl, Herschel Walker ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, Scott Woerner intercepted two passes (fellow senior DBs Chris Welton, Bob Kelly and Mike Fisher also came up with critical turnovers) and in his debut, Terry Hoage blocked an Irish field goal. All three are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Georgia’s best players will have to be at their best.
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