The Baker Mayfield era ended on a sour note Monday as the No. 2 Sooners fell to No. 3 Georgia 54-48 in double overtime in the Rose Bowl.
The Bulldogs blocked a field goal attempt by OU kicker Austin Seibert at the start of the second overtime and then Georgia scored a touchdown to seal the win.
Georgia will play No. 4 Alabama Monday night for the national championship in Atlanta after the Crimson Tide pounded No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl. That game is a giant disappointment to a host of college football fans because it matches two teams from the same conference (SEC).
Despite feeling ill for a week before the game, Mayfield said that did not affect his performance. “No, no, no. I felt fine,” said Mayfield, who set the school single-season record for total offense (4,938 yards). “Just, quite frankly, just missed throws. Didn’t make the throws I normally make and that showed.”
Although Baker Mayfield will graduate, the game ended a remarkable first year for OU head coach Lincoln Riley. OU won its third Big 12 crown in a row in 2017.
“It’s tough to describe right now,” Riley said afterward. “It’s … an epic Rose Bowl Game. You know, being on this side of it is difficult to describe, the disappointment, the hurt that we feel, that those guys in that locker room feel right now. Some of them came in telling me sorry and telling us sorry, and I said, ‘Don’t tell us you’re sorry.’ Our team put it on the line. They laid it on the line every snap.”
What went wrong?
“I don’t know that there’s one thing,” Riley said.
“Just that we had an opportunity to win the game. … Look, give Georgia credit. There’s a reason they’re in this game, too. They’re a very, very talented team. But, no, I will never say one play in particular. There is no one play that lost this game for us or won it for Georgia. There were a ton of good plays on both sides of the ball, and they made one more than we did.”
OU scored on five of their six possessions in the first half and led 31-14 with just six seconds in the half. But Georgia recovered a squib kick and the Bulldogs kicked a Rose Bowl record 55-yard field goal with one second left.
“I don’t know that we necessarily lost momentum,” Riley said of the squib kick failure. “That probably gave them a little bit of juice. They were able to steal three points on us. It was a good call. And Austin’s been great with those. He just didn’t hit it well and ended up going right to their guy, which that’s the one thing you can’t do and we did.”
In the second half, Georgia went on a 24-0 run and they led 38-31 in the fourth quarter. OU countered with a 14-0 run and then a pair of field goals tied the game at 48 at the end of regulation.
“We weren’t perfect,” Riley said. “We did a lot of really good things on both sides of the ball, but we certainly weren’t perfect. Had some opportunities, let the game get back a little bit closer there in the third quarter, and at that point … it was going to come down to one play here or there, and it did.”
OU running back Rodney Anderson ran for a career-high 201 yards on 26 carries (7.7 average) and became just the second player to rush for at least 100 yards against Georgia this season.
“I’ve thought about the loss in 2015 to Clemson (in the CFP semifinal) for so long,” Mayfield said. “We talked about it a lot, that we get another chance to finish it out the right way. We had a special team. It’s been a good ride. But to know it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to is the toughest part.”