PASADENA, Calif. — If you’re going to mount an epic comeback, making history in the Granddaddy of them All isn’t a bad place to do so.
No. 3 Georgia stormed back from 17 down (and a seven point deficit in the final few minutes) against the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 Oklahoma to capture a dramatic 54-48 win in double overtime of the 104th Rose Bowl to book a southern homecoming to end all homecomings with a spot in the National Championship Game in Atlanta next week.
Not surprisingly, the Bulldogs used what worked all season: run the ball, play some defense and find a little luck.
Tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb both had the game of their careers on the grand stage of the College Football Playoff Semifinal and cemented their status as the best duo to share a backfield. Michel posted a 75-yard touchdown for one of his three scores on the night and scored the winner from 27 yards out on a direct snap to win the game. He finished with 181 on the ground. Chubb didn’t mind playing a little game of ‘anything you can do, I can do too’ in ripping off a 50-yarder to the house to go with his 145 yards in the game.
That helped take the pressure off of freshman quarterback Jake Fromm — not that he needed it with an efficient 210 yards passing and two touchdowns. He never once looked overwhelmed by the moment despite the numbers and made several huge throws down the stretch and on the final drive that tied the game with just a minute left.
Though the final numbers were not something for head coach Kirby Smart to be proud about, he’ll take them given that the team left Southern California with the win. Linebacker Roquan Smith was all over the field as the team’s leader on that side of the ball and a big reason why the Bulldogs were able to emerge victorious in the first ever overtime game in Rose Bowl history.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was still dazzling with the football in his hands even if it didn’t quite get the job done. The nation’s most outstanding player threw for 287 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also catching a score in the corner of the end zone for good measure. While he did throw an interception that contributed to Bulldogs clawing their way back in the second half, Mayfield was simply phenomenal when the pressure was cranked up the most.
It wasn’t just a one-man show for the most potent offense in college football either. Rodney Anderson made it very clear that the field was full of terrific tailbacks as he ran for 201 yards and two touchdowns — one a 45 yarder that early in the second quarter that put the SEC champs on defense that the team was here to play too.
Somewhat ironically however, the biggest play for the team may have come from a defense that allowed 527 yards and were frequently chasing players instead of tackling them. With just under seven minutes to go in the game, linebacker Caleb Kelly went low to tackle Georgia’s Sony Michel and put his helmet right on the ball to force a fumble along the sidelines. Steven Parker was in the right place at the right time though and returned it 46 yards the other way for a go-ahead score.
Michel would make up for that mistake not long after to seal the game, taking advantage of a blocked field goal in the second overtime to lock up the victory.
The night belonged to Georgia as they won the first ever meeting between the two powerhouses by capturing the first ever overtime game in Rose Bowl history. Not a bad trip out West for the Dawgs but that plane ride back to Georgia will be even sweeter.