Rose Bowl score: Georgia completes comeback over Oklahoma in 2OT thriller
The best College Football Playoff semifinal yet was just as majestic as its Rose Bowl setting
Well, you're not going to get much better than double overtime in The Granddaddy of Them All. A high-scoring, thrilling game between No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia took the Rose Bowl into its first overtime in history. The 54-48 victory for the Bulldogs came after blocking a Sooners field goal attempt with running back Sony Michel scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 27-yard run on the ensuing possession in double overtime.
The win puts Georgia in a position to play for its first national championship since 1983. It also marks the largest comeback in Rose Bowl history and just the third double-digit comeback. The only other times were in 1926 when Alabama came back from 12-0 to beat Washington 20-19 and in 1989 when Michigan came back from 14-3 to beat USC 22-14. The comeback also marks a low-percentage win for the Bulldogs for the 2017 season.
Meanwhile, the Sooners finish the season 12-2 and have not advanced past the semifinals in their two playoff appearances, meaning that the Big 12 remains the only Power Five conference without a playoff win. Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield finished with 287 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Here's what we learned from what was easily the most exciting semifinal game in the playoff era.
Here are four takeaways from the first College Football Playoff semifinal game.
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith was that man: Smith was the defensive MVP of this game and there was never a doubt as to why. The stud linebacker finished with a game-high 11 tackles and came up with big play after big play in every big situation imaginable. He was everywhere doing everything. The way he was able to shed blocks in space and string out plays sideline to sideline to minimize yardage is the type of stuff he's been doing all year, but it really came up big against one of the top offenses in college football. There's a reason he was one of our. He'll be a monster in the national championship, too.
Georgia's run game was ridiculous: It was no secret that Oklahoma's smaller defense front and linebackers didn't match up well against Georgia's run game, but the box score for Sony Michel and Nick Chubb is almost laughably absurd. The two combined for 326 yards on the ground at a whopping 13 yards per carry -- at one point they were at 20 (20!) yards per carry -- and five touchdowns with Michel adding another touchdown as a receiver. In all, the Bulldogs' offense totaled 317 yards on the ground and more than nine yards per carry. While Oklahoma's defense actually did a good job of stuffing the run towards the end, Michel's 27-yard sweep to the far side of the field was the winning play.
Special teams were sneaky important: Hidden yards and field goals were critical in this game. In that way, Rodrigo Blankenship was low-key one of the most important players in this game. Blankenship started the second half by basically pinning three kicks at the goal line, which resulted in OU drives starting at the 14, the 17 and the 18, respectively. The results of those three drives? All three-and-outs. On the other side, Oklahoma's Austin Seibert had a couple of short punts and a blocked field goal. The squib kick at the end of the first half that resulted in a 55-yard field goal for Blankenship -- a Rose Bowl record -- also looms large because it reduced the deficit from 17 points to 14.
After calling a perfect first half, Lincoln Riley got conservative: Boy, what a tale of two halves for Riley. Theright before halftime was probably the last good play for the Sooners. Once the second half started, it was a different game. Oklahoma's first five possessions of the second half went as follows: punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, all for 37 yards. Oklahoma went 1-of-8 on third downs in the second half, too, and things didn't get much better in overtime. Riley relied heavily on the running attack and the aggressive nature from earlier in the game had completely vanished. But credit to Smart and his staff. The entire Georgia defense played well in the second half and in overtime. The defensive front got to Mayfield with five sacks.
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