College Football Playoff: Sooners fall to Georgia in double OT

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield /

3In perhaps the greatest Rose Bowl game ever played – and certainly in this century – No. 3 Georgia outlasted No. 2 Oklahoma on New Year’s Day in a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

The two teams fought to a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation, sending the game into the first overtime session in Rose Bowl history. The Sooners held Georgia to a field goal on the Dawgs’ first possession in overtime, leaving the door open for Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma to close out the game with a touchdown in their overtime possession.

The Sooners moved to the 16-yard line on their first overtime possession, but the drive stalled there, and they were forced to kick a field goal, which Austin Seibert made from 33 yards to send the game to a second overtime.

Oklahoma had the first possession in the second overtime session, but a second field-goal attempt by Seibert in the OT session was blocked, and Georgia capitalized with a 25-yard touchdown scamper by Sony Michel that sent the Bulldogs on to the national championship game on Jan. 8.

Mayfield, who spent much of the time the Sooners were in Pasadena in his hotel room resting while battling flu symptoms, did not appear to be noticeably affected by ill health, completing 23 of 35 pass attempts for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb on a trick play with time winding down in the opening half to put the Sooners up 31-14 with just six seconds remaining on the clock.

The third quarter was a complete reversal from the opening two quarters, which were largely controlled by Oklahoma’s high-powered, balanced offensive attack. The Sooners outgained the SEC champions on offense in the first half, producing 360 yards to 291 for Georgia. But the first 16 minutes of the second half were a total different story.

The Georgia defense made second-half adjustments and held Mayfield and the Sooners to just 29 yards of offense and two first downs in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Georgia offense reeled off 21 unanswered points, which turned out to be difference in the game.

The Sooners had the ball nearly 10 minutes in the third quarter but had virtually no production to show for it.

Defense took a back seat in this game as the Sooners and Bulldogs combined for 1,058 yards of total offense, with just four yards separating the two teams (531 for OU and 527 for Georgia).

Oklahoma’s ability to run the football against the stout Georgia defense was a big question mark coming into the game, but the Sooners proved that their running game was stronger than anticipated. With sophomore running back Rodney Anderson doing most of the damage on the ground for the Sooners, OU ran for 242 yards, with Anderson producing 201 of that total and averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

While the Oklahoma run game was a pleasant surprise and helped power the Sooners to a 17-point first-half advantage, Georgia’s triple-headed rushing attack lived up to all expectations, running over, around and by the OU defenders for a game-high 317 yards. A high percentage of those ground yards came in the third quarter, when Georgia erased a 31-17 Oklahoma halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs had fought all the way back to knot the score at 31-all.

The Bulldogs broke the deadlock just one minute into the final quarter, scoring their 21st unanswered point on  four-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to wide receiver Javon Wims.

With Georgia owning a 38-31 advantage early in the fourth quarter, Mayfield orchestrated a six-play, 88-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 11-yard TD pass from Mayfield to Dimitri Flowers, that allowed the Sooners to draw even.

On Georgia’s ensuing offensive possession, Oklahoma got a huge break when the Sooner defense forced a fumble by the Bulldogs’ Sony Michel, and safety Steven Parker scooped up the loose ball and returned it 46 yards for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown. It looked then, with 6:52 remaining in the game,

The Sooner defense couldn’t stop Georgia from a game-tying 59-yard touchdown march, as the Dawgs pushed across a critical score with just 55 seconds remaining, which was enough to send the game to overtime.

Oklahoma’s season-long journey to college football’s promised land came to a disappointing end on the legendary Rose Bowl turf at a little after 6 p.m. PT. The Sooners’ season and Baker Mayfield’s college career comes to a close with the Sooners finishing with a 12-2 record for 2017 and Mayfield being on the winning end of 34 of 40 games and three Big 12 championships as the Oklahoma starting quarterback.

A pretty terrific ride for arguably the best player in Oklahoma’s storied football history. He and his Sooner teammates have no need to hang their heads. They played their hearts out and left it all on the field. They just weren’t the best team on this particular day, but that should take nothing away from another outstanding Oklahoma football season.