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College Football Playoff: Rose Bowl Game Pits #3 Georgia Versus #2 Oklahoma

Who will be the first team to advance to the National Championship Game?

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Year!

This afternoon, the Rose Bowl Game features the first College Football Playoff Semifinal between the #2 Oklahoma Sooners and the #3 Georgia Bulldogs.

This game features Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who has been under weather in the days leading up to today’s game, at quarterback for the Sooners. Oklahoma is led by first-year head coach Lincoln Riley, who took over the program after longtime Sooner coach Bob Stoops stepped down over the summer.

Meanwhile, Georgia is led by true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. When you see a quarterback like Fromm making the CFP as a freshman, it just leaves you wondering what could have been for Josh Rosen.

Of course, the Bulldogs are more than just Fromm. On defense, they are led by junior linebacker Roquan Smith. This year, in addition to being the MVP of the SEC Championship Game, Smith was the AP SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker.

But, again, it makes you wonder what could have been because, on National Signing Day in 2015, Smith announced that he would be attending UCLA. However, because Jim Mora and staff couldn’t contain the fact that Jeff Ulbrich was leaving for the Atlanta Falcons, Smith didn’t submit a signed National Letter of Intent to UCLA and he decided to go to the University of Georgia instead.

Would things have been different for the Bruins if Smith had come to Westwood? I don’t think so because the biggest problem with Jim Mora’s program, the offensive line, would still have been a problem. But I digress.

Georgia is coached by Kirby Smart. Smart is in his second year at Georgia. Before that, he spent nine years coaching the Alabama defense for Nick Saban and eight of those years he was the Tide’s defensive coordinator. So, Smart is used to preparing his teams to play for National Championships.

So, who will win this one?

I’ve got to go with Georgia in the matchup. Why? Well, you’ve got a second-year head coach who is used to play for national championships up against a rookie head coach who has never played for a title. But it isn’t just that.

It’s the fact that the Bulldogs play in the SEC while the Sooners play in the Big 12. While the SEC may not be as dominant this year as it was a few years ago, the Big 12 just isn’t as competitive as the SEC is. Coming out of the SEC with just one loss and having avenged that loss in the SEC Championship Game looks a lot better than having one loss in the Big 12 to a team that won the Liberty Bowl.

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments.

This is your College Football Playoff Semifinal Rose Bowl Game open thread.

Go Bruins.