PASADENA, Calif. — The nation’s best offense seemed to be slightly ahead of one of college football’s best defenses early on at the Granddaddy of them All.
Behind a barrage of quick passes from the Heisman Trophy winner and the terrific running of tailback Rodney Anderson, No. 2 Oklahoma took a 31-17 halftime lead over No. 3 Georgia in the best track meet in college football at the 104th Rose Bowl.
Baker Mayfield was terrific in the first half and certainly looked at 100% after dealing with an illness in the week leading up to the game. The nation’s most outstanding player was nearly perfect against the No. 1 pass defense in the FBS, throwing for 200 yards and a touchdown on the grand stage of a College Football Playoff semifinal. Incredibly, he even caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone with six seconds left in the half to extend the team’s lead and even the simple threat of the dynamic signal-caller opened up plenty of other avenues for the Sooners to attack. Anderson in particular took advantage on nearly every drive, ripping off a pair of 40+ yard runs on his way to 125 and a pair of touchdowns at the break.
Oklahoma wound up scoring on five of their six possessions in what would be come a theme on the day of both sides racing up and down the most picturesque field in the sport.
The Bulldogs were no slouch offensively either even if their defense wasn’t living up the high billing. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm was not operating an Air Raid attack but had 109 yards on 12-of-17 passing with a touchdown and looked ready for his big moment out West.
Of course, it helps to have tailbacks like Georgia’s to turn around and hand the ball off to. Sony Michel broke off a 75 yard touchdown run in the first quarter that showed off a bit of that SEC speed while finishing the half with 95 on the ground. Teammate Nick Chubb wasn’t shabby either in adding 89 yards on six carries.
Last year’s Rose Bowl set numerous offensive records when Penn State and USC got into a track meet but it seems the Sooners and Bulldogs are well on their way to rewriting those numbers to kick off 2018. A ticket to Atlanta and the national title game is on the line in the second half and it has the makings of a classic if the SEC champs can get back into things after that dazzling show from both sides.