There are many that think the Georgia Bulldogs should be in the College Football Playoff.
Heading into championship week, the Bulldogs sat at No. 4 in the CFP Rankings, but needed a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship to cement their status as one of the top four teams. After giving up a 21-7 lead to the Crimson Tide and losing 35-28, the Bulldogs found themselves on the outside looking in, matched up against the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Despite the fact that Georgia finds itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs, the Bulldogs are easily one of the top teams in the country and the Longhorns will have their work cut out for them when they head to New Orleans.
Throughout the regular season and the conference championship, Georgia’s biggest weapon on offense is simply their ability to stay on schedule.
The Bulldogs rank No. 3 in the nation in offensive success rate at 51.4 percent. That means that on more than half of their plays, they pick up enough yardage to stay ahead of the chains and keep the distance manageable on each down. They move the ball almost at will, averaging 7.25 yards per pay, which is good enough for No. 5 in the country.
When comparing those successful plays to their scoring, the Bulldogs score 1.31 points every play that puts them ahead of the chains. Through their 13 games, Georgia runs an average of 66 plays per game, meaning that when things work as the they like, Georgia has the offensive capability to score 44.4 points per game.
Quarterback Jake Fromm continues to operate the offense at a level beyond his years from an efficiency standpoint as well, trailing just Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa for passing efficiency. The sophomore completed 68.4 percent of his passes to the tune of 2,537 yards, 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Perhaps the most-impressive feat this season is his ability to spread the ball around to his receivers.
Five of Georgia’s receivers have 30 or more targets, with Riley Ridley leading the charge The junior has hauled in 38 catches on 56 targets, a catch rate of 67.9 percent, for 498 yards and nine touchdowns; he scores a touchdown once out of every 6.2 targets. Fromm looked toward Ridley’s counterpart, Mecole Hardman 54 times for 34 completions, a 63 percent catch rate, for 540 yards and six touchdowns, averaging one touchdown every nine targets.
Even though the Bulldogs have incredible talent at receiver, they rarely have to rely upon them thanks to their two dynamic running backs, D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield.
Swift leads the team in rushing with 1,037 yards on 155 carries, a 6.7 yards per carry average, and 10 touchdowns. Holyfield adds in another 956 yards and seven touchdowns on his 147 rushes, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Their success, as well as the success of Fromm, comes in-part thanks to the performance of their offensive line.
In the running game, the offensive line does an incredible job creating cushion for the backs, creating running opportunities. On 54.1 percent of the Bulldogs’ running plays, the offensive line creates at least five yards of space for the backs to work with. For Fromm, they manage to keep him clean more often than not, with a sack rate of only 4.9 percent.
For Texas, the key becomes to take Georgia off-schedule and possibly even back them up against their own goal line.
One of the biggest deficiencies for the Bulldogs is their ability to play in the shadow of their own endzone, with a success rate of 27.8 percent, No. 98 in the country. In those same situations, they turn the ball over on 5.6 percent of their snaps, putting them outside of the top 100 at No. 108.
Georgia also struggles on passing downs — that is second downs longer than eight or third downs longer than five — allowing sacks on 8.7 percent of their passing downs; good for No. 81 in the country.
So as Texas prepares to play their seventh contest against a team in the S&P+ top 50, Longhorns fans must hope that they get the team that showed up against the USC Trojans or the first three quarters of the Red River Rivalry to come away with a win.