The Granddaddy of Them All
The Rose Bowl is annually one of the most sought after college football games because of its illustrious history and recognition as a top tier sporting event. It’s only gotten even more important in recent years after the College Football Playoff began, and every three years, the Rose Bowl is an official playoff game. That is the case this season as No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia will face off in Pasadena, California, with a chance to clinch a berth in the national title game against the winner of No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Alabama, who will be playing directly after the Rose Bowl in the Sugar Bowl.
Most Important Player (Oklahoma): Baker Mayfield began his much publicized career at Texas Tech, and wasn’t even the main starter, before deciding to transfer and walk-on at Oklahoma. That turned out to be the best possible choice, and since showing up on campus in Norman, he’s been unimaginably great. However, there have been times that his on and off the field antics have caused distractions for the program and have created controversy. And while there are no excuses for his actions, he’s no different than the majority of college students. He has shown maturity, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times. Mayfield’s critics like to pick apart his “character issues” but in reality, the on-field incidents stem from his incredibly high passion for the game. He’s competitive. It’s hard to knock a guy for caring about winning as much as he does. It’s up in the air if Mayfield will lead his team to a national title or how effective he’ll be in the NFL. But one thing is for sure, and that’s Mayfield has been one of the most electric athletes of our generation, despite the drama that comes along with him.
Most Important Player (Georgia): Nick Chubb is no stranger to the record books after spending the last four seasons in a Georgia uniform. But he’s looking to take the next step for the program and win a title. Chubb already helped the Bulldogs get over the hump of an SEC championship, and now there is just one game between them and the title game in their home state. Chubb was a highly recruited high school player who committed to Georgia under the former regime and head coach Mark Richt. He was thrown into the fire as a fresh-faced freshman because of Todd Gurley’s suspension, and instantly became a household name. Now in his senior year, as Kirby Smart is in his second season as head coach, Chubb has helped escalate Georgia to places they haven’t been since the 1980’s.
Why is the Rose Bowl so Important: As previously mentioned, the Rose Bowl is a CFP game. Which obviously means it’s important because it’ll help determine who wins the national title this season. But why else is it so coveted? It’s difficult to put into words because the Rose Bowl simply is college football. This game is everything the game stands for and is a production of excellence year in and year out. It’s one of – if not the – best showcases of talent we’ll see all year. And it’s played on the same field that so many legends have stepped on. The Rose Bowl represents college football as a whole and it always has. It’s the Granddaddy of Them All, as the famed Keith Jackson would say.
How it Feels to be Here: There is no other game in the country that has the feel of the Rose Bowl. Even when it doesn’t have national implications, it’s a must-watch bowl game. This game has seen the likes of Vince Young and Jameis Winston win titles in stunning and miraculous fashion just within the last 13 seasons. Not to mention every other thriller that this game hosted. It truly feels like a honor just to be in attendance at this game, that’s how surreal the experience is.
Prediction: It’s hard to pick against Oklahoma because of how well Mayfield has been playing all season long, and how potent the offense is. But Georgia is actually going to be the pick here. The reason? Oklahoma’s playoff game against Clemson two years ago. It seemed like the Sooners were rolling, absolutely dominating every Big 12 opponent in their way. And then they had to play a real defense. Clemson shut the doors on Mayfield, frustrating him all night long and limiting big plays. Smart and the Bulldogs will be looking to do the same. Georgia has the third best defense in the nation and it’s not going to allow anyone to embarrass them. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s defense ranks No. 52 in the nation. Although they’ve been improving since the Oklahoma State game, they still give up a lot of yards. The Georgia running game should be able to take advantage of red zone opportunities. I think this one is going to come down to the wire. But Georgia squeaks one out to advance to the CFP title game. But Mayfield could have a Deshaun Watson or Vince Young-like performance. Single handily willing his team to victory, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all. With that said, give me the Dawgs.
Photo Credit: The Big Lead.