Posted on January 2, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Georgia Bulldogs knew they would have their hands full trying to contain Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners offense in the Rose Bowl. The Sooners, in turn, knew it would not be easy to contain the most dynamic duo in college football, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. But to win their CFP Semifinal game and earn a berth in the National Championship game next week, one team would have to figure out how to get it done.
As it turns out, no one did a great job of containing anyone’s offense. But Georgia did a slightly better job of containing Baker Mayfield than Oklahoma did Georgia’s running game. They needed two overtime periods to do it, but in the end, the Bulldogs went on to win, 54-48.
“I made plays. I gave up plays. My team just had faith in me,” Bulldogs running back Sony Michel said after the game (ESPN), “That’s what this team is all about. They showed true character today.”
It was Michel’s fumble that Oklahoma safety Stevan Parker returned 46-yards for a touchdown to give the Sooners a 45-38 lead late in the fourth quarter. He certainly redeemed himself in the second overtime period when he scored from 27-yards out for the go-ahead touchdown.
Michel finished the night with 11 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns. The other star Bulldogs running back, Nick Chubb, had 14 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
At first, it looked like it was going to be the Oklahoma Sooners. Baker Mayfield carved up the Georgia defense with relative ease as he led the Sooners to three touchdowns on their first three drives. Georgia had some early success as well. But the Sooners dominated the second quarter and took a 31-17 lead into halftime.
Whatever Kirby Smart said to his guys during the intermission worked wonders. The Georgia defense held the Sooners offense to three and out on the opening drive of the second half. On the Bulldogs first play for scrimmage, Nick Chubb broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run.
After holding the Sooners to another punt, the Georgia offense needed just six plays to tie the game up at 31-31. Sony Michel finished the drive off with his second touchdown run of the day, a 38-yard scamper.
Moments later, an interception off Mayfield gave the Bulldogs the ball deep in Oklahoma territory. Two plays later, Javon Wims hauled in a four-yard pass for a touchdown. Georgia took its first lead of the day, 38-31.
Oklahoma was not going to go away quietly, of course. After a stagnant performance in the third quarter, Mayfield got the offense moving again early in the fourth. With the ball on their own 12-yard line, he quickly marched the team 88-yards to tie the game up with about nine minutes to play.
Four plays later, Sony Michel fumbled, and the Sooners retook the lead, 45-38.
But a poor punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at their own 41 with 3:15 to play. It was more than enough time to march the length of the field. Nick Chubb took the ball in from two-yards out to tie the game again.
However, the Bulldogs made one mistake. They left 55 seconds on the clock. For Mayfield, it was more than enough time. But rather than push the ball downfield, the Sooners played it safe and had to punt.
In overtime, Oklahoma continued to play it safe rather than put the ball in Mayfield’s hands. They had to settle for a field goal, like Georgia, in the first overtime. But when they tried to kick another in the second it was blocked.
But it wouldn’t have mattered anyone since Michel scored a touchdown for Georgia.
You would think Georgia head coach Kirby Smart would be happy about his team winning, but he wasn’t.
“I’m really disappointed and upset. I don’t think we played to the level we’re capable of,” he said (ESPN). “I do think the players fought – and they are a good offensive football team, but man, we stuck it up and played really bad.”
His defense allowed Mayfield to go 23-35 for 287 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Rodney Anderson gashed the Georgia defense for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
With Alabama on deck for next week’s championship game, he’ll have to figure out how to shore up his run defense.