Dawgs Refuse to be Denied: Rose Bowl Champions
Photo: Rob Saye
By: Joshua Grosh
Full disclosure, I waited to write this post game wrap up until the morning after the game because like you, I was way too amped up to type straight. So, with that handled, let’s address the situation at hand – Dawgs take down Oklahoma in a shootout in double overtime. The game itself felt like an amalgamation of Georgia’s woes of the past and hopeful future. Early on, Georgia was smacked around and seemingly falling apart come late second quarter. Oklahoma was moving the ball at will both on the ground and through the air and Georgia’s defense was not handling the speed and intensity of Oklahoma well. Mayfield was on fire, carving Georgia up with big pass after big pass and RPO reads. Not even Roquan Smith was performing at his usual inhuman level it seemed – constantly being sealed off by a lineman who got to the second level. Georgia gave up its second most points all season in just the first half alone – 31 points only second to the 40 scored by Auburn. It had all the parts to make what we’ve seen many a time from Georgia – the complete mental collapse.
Then, there came Tae Crowder. The two-star running back turned linebacker had near perfect reaction to a squib kick. Then, with a quick pass from Fromm it set up the career long 55 yard field goal by Blankenship that gave Georgia the spark it needed – and cut a three possession Oklahoma lead to two possessions. Understand, this spark, this kick was needed. The first half was a gut shot for Georgia. They had surrendered 375 yards to Oklahoma, 4 touchdowns, and a field goal to Oklahoma. Oklahoma had come out swinging and Georgia was taking a beating. Yet, like a champion, Georgia withstood the barrage and the start of the second half saw a team that would not be denied.
Georgia came out and took Oklahoma off the field with a quick three and out. Then, Chubb came with the fury of lightning and surged forward on a 50-yard touchdown play on the very first play of the half for Georgia. The defense matched the intensity and held to Oklahoma to only two 20+ yard drives for the rest of the game. The best offense in the country only got 7 points in the entire second half – and only 3 points in overtime when they already start in field goal range. They only surrendered a total of 176 yards in the second half and in overtime. The defense also got a major interception on a Mayfield overthrow (credit to our pressure) that was returned to Oklahoma’s 4-yard line. It was day and night difference from the first half. Yet, let us not ignore the offense that exploded in the second half. Multiple 50-yard drives and 28 points in the second half – and 9 in overtime. Sony Michel even got a chance at redemption after the fumble that could have cost Georgia the game. Staying alive to help Fromm out of pressure in the fourth and then a 27-yard touchdown run to seal the deal. This game gave UGA two 1,000-yard rushers in a season and the most rushing yards combined by a running back duo in FBS history. A storybook in the making for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Yet, there were other heroes in this game. Fromm with his composure – especially in the fourth quarter to lead a drive to tie the game – avoiding a sack with a side step. He played with a composure beyond his years. Tyler Clark had late game disrupting tackles, Roquan roared to life with 11 tackles and a big stop to force the field goal to be blocked, and then there was Lorenzo Carter. Carter got 10 tackles, half a sack, 3 tackles for a loss, and the block on the field goal that ultimately set up the Georgia win – the block that some are calling the Rose Block, a somewhat catchy play on words to sound like road block. There was Blankenship with the career long field goal and Sanders with the interception (Mayfield’s first interception since the Oklahoma State game on November 4th). It was an incredible team effort. One that will be remembered for years – and every time it looked bleak, the Dawgs fought back and refused to be denied their victory.
The next game is the National Championship game against Alabama on Monday January 8th. Georgia will face possibly the toughest game yet as Alabama’s defense is designed with the sole purpose of stopping the run and forcing you to beat them through the air. Georgia will have to beat that issue and surpass the Saban assistant curse to win – given that no former Saban assistant turned head coach has ever beaten him. Georgia opens as a 4-point underdog in its own backyard of Atlanta for its first shot at a national championship in a long time. Go Dawgs!