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12 January 2018, 08:22 | Joann Bryant
To think that Georgia nearly missed out on an opportunity to go to overtime because of Michel.
After trailing by as much as 17 during a bleak first half, the Bulldogs' composure shined under the fading California sun in the second half en route to a 54-48 victory in double overtime over Oklahoma in an instant-classic Rose Bowl on Monday.
It's happening six days from now - two years after they won a national championship together in the desert - only one can leave Atlanta with hardware Monday. Two short completions on conservative plays only got the Sooners in position for a field goal that was blocked by Georgia's Lorenzo Carter.
"We encouraged them while they were out there to kind of try to stay around Central time if they could", Smart said Tuesday afternoon on a teleconference. I think it exposes character, for sure. "Whatever changes we did want to make you felt like you had to get them done pretty quickly". He never cared about the Heisman, he cared about his team and being able to lead them to be National Champions.
Also seen on the sidelines was former National Basketball Association coach-turned-analyst Jeff Van Gundy, whose daughter attends Georgia. "That lit a fire on our sideline, we had the energy back, and we were back in the game".
Moments later, Georgia running back Sony Michel, who carved up the Sooners for 181 yards and three rushing touchdowns, scored the emphatic game-winner from 27 yards out on a direct snap. Georgia's night turned sour again when OU linebacker Caleb Kelly forced the ball from Michel's hands and into the grasp of Sooner safety Steven Parker, who returned it for a 46-yard score that gave the Sooners a 45-38 lead in the fourth. Rodney Anderson made it into the end zone on runs of 9 and 41 yards.
"I'm proud as hell to be his coach", Riley said.
VOTE: Did Oklahoma beat itself with its overtime play calling?
Although Baker Mayfield had the ball in his hands a few times with chances to win the Rose Bowl for Oklahoma, the Heisman Trophy victor couldn't convert those opportunities.
It was his fourth touchdown of the game and the most important one.
"What a game, what an atmosphere", Georgia coach Kirby Smart toldESPN on the field after the game.
Smart gave the defense credit for playing better in the second half, especially in the third quarter when the Bulldogs rallied. "We just didn't put our best foot forward".
Even though all the momentum rested with Oklahoma at the half, opportunistic plays by Georgia made it a punch/counterpunch battle between two gladiators down the stretch.
Michel and Chubb combined for 326 rushing yards, giving them 8,284 combined career yards, surpassing SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James for most rushing yards all-time by a pair of teammates. With the ball on their own 12-yard line, he quickly marched the team 88-yards to tie the game up with about nine minutes to play.
"I can't believe it's over", Mayfield said, choking back tears.
In his final outing, Mayfield passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns. "He could play at any school in the country, but he's out here trying to make us better in practice".
A 55-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to end the first half helped give Georgia momentum. You got to keep going, keep running, ' " said running back Nick Chubb, the other of the team's 1,000 rushers.
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