The anticipation was plenty during the college football playoffs, starting in Pasadena, with the Rose Bowl.
The Georgia Bulldogs and the Oklahoma Sooners gave us every piece of awesomeness we could ask for in a college football game. The game came down to the wire, raising the blood pressure of many in the process.
It was a tale of two halves, the first half was all about the Sooners and the second half is when the Bulldogs defense decided to show up.
The late game in New Orleans was the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. That game was the revenge game from last year’s championship game when quarterback Deshaun Watson led the Tigers to a win over Alabama. I don’t like to call it a revenge game because the win still does not give the championship trophy from the year before; all it does is give you the win and the chance to possibly win this year’s championship game.
After ending the first overtime Rose Bowl, one of the greatest of them all, Sony Michel, was covered by his Bulldogs teammates as he broke down in tears. The senior tailback had gone from possible goat to the all-time hero for Georgia, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game with one last burst in a game that was full of them.
Michel sprinted for 27 yards for the touchdown in the second overtime to give number Georgia a 54-48 victory against number 2 Oklahoma in the college football semifinal Jan. 1. After the win, Michel said, “I made plays, I gave up plays. My team just had faith in me.”
Michel, who did all that damage on just 11 carries, received a hug from former Bulldogs great tailback, Garrison Hearst, after scoring the winning touchdown.
“That’s what this team is all about. They showed true character today,” Michel said.
Despite his fumble in the fourth quarter that was returned for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown, Michel ran for 181 yards and three scores for the 13-1 Bulldogs.
In the final game of his great college career, Oklahoma’s star quarterback, Baker Mayfield, threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught one touchdown pass that gave the Sooners a 17-point lead with 6 seconds left in the first half. The Sooners gave up what became a very pivotal field goal at the end of the first half when the Bulldogs kicker made a 55-yard field goal to make the deficit 14 points instead of 17 points.
But the Heisman Trophy winner could not get the 12-2 Sooners into the end zone in the first overtime when a touchdown would have ended the game.
“It is tough to describe right now,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said about the loss. “It is a hell of a college football game. You know an epic Rose Bowl game.”
The Bulldogs will take on Alabama Jan. 8 in an all Southeastern Conference national championship game at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which is about 70 miles from the Georgia campus. After Georgia made its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1943 a heart-stopping success, the Bulldogs will play for their first national title since 1980.
The 104th Rose Bowl was also the highest scoring, surpassing last year’s 52-49 USC victory against Peen State. There was a lot more on the line in this one, the first College Football Playoff game to go to overtime.
After an offside penalty on Georgia negated an interception and gave Oklahoma a first down on third-and-five in the second overtime possession, the Sooners stalled again and Austin Seibert came out for a 27-yard field goal.
Flying through the line, Lorenzo Carter got his outstretched hand on the kick and the ball trembled down short of the uprights. Any score would’ve ended the game but instead of kicking the field goal for the win, Georgia ran with Michel on the second play. He slipped one tackle and was home free. Confetti fell and Mr. Heisman stood motionless.
One note on the NFL playoffs: the NFC South has three teams in the playoffs, the division winner New Orleans Saints, the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are the only NFC playoff team from last year to make the playoffs this year. Will we have another NFC South team in the Super Bowl for the third straight year?
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.