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Lincoln Riley On Georgia Defense: 'No Way' Dawgs Are Top 5 Unit If They Played In Big 12

Baker Mayfield and Lincoln Riley shake hands during the Rose Bowl.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners shakes hands with head coach Lincoln Riley during the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Entering the 2017 College Football Playoff, the Georgia football defense had surrendered more than 28 points just one time: in a loss to Auburn. Considering the Dawgs avenged that game weeks later, holding the Tigers to one touchdown in the SEC Championship Game, most wrote off the poor performance. Oklahoma was the next team to do real damage against Georgia (in a losing effort), scoring 48 points in the CFP semifinal, and now Sooners coach Lincoln Riley is making headlines for comments about UGA.

Oklahoma fell 54-48 in that overtime game, a come-from-behind victory for the Bulldogs. The Baker Mayfield-led offense got off to a blistering start, but ultimately, the Dawgs figured enough things out to slow down OU down the stretch, and the Georgia rushing attack was absolutely unstoppable on the other end.

Oklahoma scored on everyone last year. Even with those 48 points, it is hard to argue against the elite status of Georgia's defense in 2017.

In a recent radio appearance, however, it sounded like Lincoln Riley did just that. He appeared on ESPNU on SiriusXM with Danny Kanell and Taylor Zarzour, and had a very interesting quote about how UGA would far in the Big 12:

Obviously, that quote quickly made the rounds. Honestly, Riley has to know that it would. He took to Twitter to say that he was propping up the Big 12, and not knocking Georgia.

Taken literally, Lincoln Riley's quote about Georgia's defense is probably correct.

Per CFBStats, UGA's defense finished exactly sixth in both total defense and scoring defense in the FBS ranks last season. Considering the level of talent the Dawgs played against, it is not at all crazy to say they had a top five defense overall.

However, the Big 12 is a much different league stylistically. Most of the league scores at least 30 points per game.

Georgia's defense may be just as effective, if the Dawgs played in that league. Given the pace and style of play, however, odds are the numbers wouldn't be quite as good, at least without adjusting for pace.