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Rose Bowl: Oklahoma, Georgia prepare for playoff collision

Washington PostLOS ANGELES — Stack the appeals and the curiosities of the 104th Rose Bowl, and you end up with a grandaddy of a heap.

There’s the freshness of Oklahoma and Georgia tangling for the first time in 148 years.

There’s the electricity that flows from the game doubling as a College Football Playoff semifinal.

There’s the case of the flu-like illness of Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield, which apparently hasn’t prevented him from practicing.

Yet at the top of the pile, there’s X-and-O caviar: a tremendous offense against a tremendous defense. Oklahoma’s offense towers at No. 1 in the country; Georgia’s defense bruises in at No. 4. Oklahoma averaged 8.44 yards per play in the regular season, almost a full yard ahead of the national runnerup, UCF (7.6). Georgia allowed 4.45.

No. 2 Oklahoma flourished. No. 3 Georgia prohibited flourishing.

"Comparing our defense to their offense, it’s, okay, now it’s about when the road meets the road," Georgia nose guard John Atkins said.

There might seem to be diminished space on the field.

"You’d better not be thinking anything else (but a grind), because if you’re thinking anything else and you get out there and then (a grind) happens, you’re in trouble," Oklahoma assistant head coach Cale Gundy said.

It would seem, to competitive sorts, even a privilege.

"When you’re a great defense, you love going up against a great offense," Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith said. "(Mayfield has to) show us why he’s the Heisman (winner); we’ve got to show him why we’re the best defense."

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