So that is what an out-of-body experience feels like.
I’m going to try and cobble together something semi-coherent. Truth is, I didn’t sleep last night and I had the benefit of being in my warm, snug home. But, I drank too much (nervous consumption), had too much adrenaline and haven’t been this excited about my team since my freshman year at UGA in ‘80. We are playing for all the marbles next week. It hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.
I am still not quite sure how we won that game. Every game has its moments. This game had an entire season’s worth of huge moments, big plays and drama. I want to start off with what, at the time, seemed like a small thing, but helped keep alive The Main Thing.
TFW you're headed to the championship pic.twitter.com/PRDR7Vj31C— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) January 2, 2018
I’m talking about Oklahoma’s ill-fated squib kick as they were trying to get to halftime.
1. The box score says, “Austin Seibert kickoff for 12-yards (0:06).” This does not even begin to describe what this ultimately meant in the grand scheme of this game. Not. Even. Close.
Let me set this thing up: Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley had just dialed-up an brilliantly executed double-reverse throw back pass to Baker Mayfield on 3rd down from the Georgia 2 Yard line. The Dawgs were valiantly trying to make a stand, hoping to hold the Sooners to a mere 3 points. This play probably kills the will of 99.9% of any team in America as Georgia would surely be down by 17-points going into the half and facing the specter of playing catch-up football against a team that executed near-perfect offensive football for an entire half and NEVER gives up a lead.
Now, Oklahoma is up 31-14, the clock says 0:06, the Sooners are set to receive the 2nd half kickoff and we should be dead. The only thing that’ll save us now is a miracle.
2. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Some are grand events: Belue-to-Scott, Kevin Butler’s 60-yard Clemson killer in ‘84, The Braves’ Francisco Cabrera’s game-winning hit against Pittsburgh in the ‘92 NLCS. Austin Seibert was asked to execute a simple squib kick designed to play keep away from our deep guy and probably run out the clock. This is probably the right call, but Seibert did not execute. Georgia’s up-man, Tae Crowder, made a great play to corral the ball and the clock stopped at 0:06.
EDIT: Here’s the play.
Play of the #RoseBowlGame caught on @ESPN’s skycam. Talk about being prepared for situational football. Tae Crowder snagging this squib kick and gets down quick to set up the Hot Rod 55 yarder for points before half. Unreal change of momentum for #UGA pic.twitter.com/ldERieJbEx— Drew Butler (@DrewBut13r) January 2, 2018
3. A quick 9-yard strike from Jake Fromm to Terry Godwin and an even quicker timeout by Kirby Smart gave Georgia a shot at some points with a single second on the scoreboard. In comes Rodrigo Blankenship, who would attempt a 55-yard try coming after missing a 48-yard attempt that was just wide left in the 1st quarter. Hot Rod nailed the kick (a Rose Bowl record) and suddenly Georgia has got life.
4. Once again, the defensive staff made incredible adjustments at the half. Do you realize that Oklahoma did not score a single point in the 3rd quarter? We should have been done at 31-14. We had life at 31-17. After the great Nick Chubb 2nd effort romp (video below) we were back in the game at 31-24, and when Sony Michel bolted 38 yards down the OU sideline to tie the game at 31-31, did we dare dream of winning this thing? Yes. We’ve come all the way back.
Smh pic.twitter.com/5HADMjxWy4— FOST (@GeorgeFoster72) January 2, 2018
Nick Chubb. A GOAT, also known as a Manimal.
5. The aforementioned game tying touchdown was facilitated by Jake Fromm’s ability to see something and check out of a play in favor of something designed to exploit OU’s gap on the short side of the field. Sony took it to the house, but all that film study by Fromm and his ability to recognize schemes is atypical of any freshman. Fromm is special, folks.
6. On the first play of the 4th quarter - the longest 4th quarter in modern football history (at least in my mind) - Baker Mayfield overthrew his receiver in the middle of the field and ball-hawk Dominick Sanders easily fielded the pick and nearly took it to the house. A few plays later, Jake Fromm hits Javon Wims on a perfect throw and even better catch in the back of the endzone and we are now in the lead. We are in the lead? This almost didn’t register in the moment.
6A. At this point, my wife is watching with me. This in itself is remarkable because she’s English and doesn’t fully understand the hub-bub of big-time college football. Their only equivalent “over the pond” is the Oxford-Cambridge boat race (she’s from Cambridge). Now, her heart is palpitating as much as any die-hard-Dawg alive. After Chubb’s score, she simply said, “this game is unbelievable.” I was in Jacksonville in 1980. I think this game was better. This person agrees with me. Maybe that game has faded a bit into myth over the years; perhaps my yearning for something new and great has clouded my objectivity. But I truly believe that was about the greatest game I’ve ever witnessed.
7. At exactly 10:00 in the 4th quarter, Baker Mayfield hits OU’s brilliant CeeDee Lamb for a perfectly thrown 36 yard completion and suddenly, the Sooner’s offense after 20 minutes of ineptitude in the 2nd half is alive and well. They score a few plays later and we’re tied up again. Another huge momentum swing. Could Georgia regain the lead?
8. No. Disaster strikes quickly as Sony Michel fumbles and the Sooners scoop and score. And it’s late and I’m out of beer and I’m beginning to feel like I’ve felt virtually all of my life in games like these. Since 1980, we just don’t win games like these. Until last night.
We got the ball back around the 6:54 mark, but couldn’t do anything and quietly went three-and-out and have to punt. Oklahoma has the lead and all the momentum once again. This game is getting very long in the tooth and I just don’t think we’ve got anything left in our tank at this point. Well, turns out we’ve got a very large tank...
9. ...so, we punt and OU has the ball again. We’ve got to stop them. A three-and-out here is way, way too much to ask for, right? This is exactly what we get. Georgia makes a stand and the Sooners have to punt. This sets up the final Georgia possession of the game and we have to save ourselves once again.
10. The Dawgs go on a 7-play, 59 yard drive with a little over 3 minutes to go. Do you realize that Jake Fromm completed 3 passes on this drive? He avoided a near disastrous sack by side-stepping a blitzing OU linebacker and deftly hit Sony Michel on a 17 yard gainer, then hit Terry Godwin on 3rd and 10 for another 16 yards down to the OU 7 which set up Nick Chubb’s Wild Dawg score to tie it up and send it to overtime.
At this point, I’m not only dreaming, but hallucinating.
11. In overtime, we couldn’t do a thing on our initial series (OU won the coin toss for the 2nd time in the game) and settled for another Blankenship field goal. This was not a chip-shot, but he hit it cleanly and put us up by 3. At this point, I felt a bit ill and my wife had to leave the room. She couldn’t handle it any longer and who could blame her.
12. So now, OU is poised to win the game and Lincoln Riley blinked. Yes, he did. The Sooners Rodney Anderson gained 4 yards on first down, Mayfield completes a pass for 4 more yards on 2nd down, and on 3rd down, Jordan Smallwood gets stacked up by Roquan Smith for a single yard gain. Now, the Sooners are on our 16 and no way do they kick a field goal here, right? In comes Seibert and he connects from 33 yards. On to OT #2...
13. Georgia stiffened in overtime #2. If Oklahoma scores a touchdown here, Georgia gets another crack at this. I felt at the time, despite the Jonathan Ledbetter off-sides that aided the Sooners, the defense really bowed up and played smart. OU was set up 1st-and-10 from our 15, and we stuff the first down run for no gain. On second down, Mayfield attempts a little swing pass that we knock down for a 2 yard loss. On third down, the Sooners get back 7 yards on a Mayfield pass to Marquise Brown, but now they’re facing 4th and 5 from our 10 and have to kick a 27-yard field goal to get points.
14. This happened:
Lorenzo Carter‼️‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/6AeRc793Gk— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) January 2, 2018
15. Then, this happened:
Everything is better with Titanic music. pic.twitter.com/xPAG0xaGjU— Barstool UGA (@ugabarstool) January 2, 2018
Yes, everything is better with Titanic music. I love you, Sony Michel.
Here’s a link with how other media outlets (including Spanish and Russian) called the game winner. Good Times!
Look at the blocking by Jake Fromm on this play. Our receivers held their blocks all night long as well, and this was no different.
15A. I cannot even begin to acknowledge the effort by everyone last night, certainly not in a few hundred words in a blog-piece. Our defense looked confused and totally lost for an entire half, but our offense did enough to keep us in the game. For most of the 2nd half, our defense looked like we expected them to look and put us in position to win the game.
Tyler Clark was a monster on the defensive line. After a slow start, Roquan Smith played like the All-American, Butkus Award Winner he is. Lorenzo Carter had 10 tackles, 3 TFL, but will always be remembered for his epic block of the potential tying field goal that set up Sony’s winning romp. Tyler Simmons caught a key pass early and was blocking for Sony on the game winner. Special teams, especially on kickoff coverage, was outstanding and forced OU to begin several drives well behind the 25-yard-line. Cameron Nizialek, except for one lone short punt, averaged 48 yards/kick including a booming 61 yarder.
When we took the lead, I was having a total out-of-body experience. Seriously. When Lo Carter blocked the field goal and victory truly seemed possible, I was hallucinating. When Sony scored, I briefly teared up and for the first time ever, my wife understood. That was a nice moment.
We’ll discuss Alabama as the week progresses. Right now, Vegas has us at about -4 ‘Dog. I don’t care. I just want to enjoy this one for another day or two (a luxury the players do not have).
It’s always Great to be a Georgia Bulldog. Today, I’ve never been prouder of my team. We are in Year 2 of the Kirby Smart era and we are playing for a National Championship. We have the #1 rated incoming recruiting class and we have a roster full of young talent. This is not a dream, right?
- Baker Mayfield is a worthy Heisman trophy winner. I don’t care for his antics, but he was gracious in defeat and should hold his head high. The Sooners offense is about as good as it gets.
- Our offense is pretty damn good, too.
- I am enjoying Auburn’s loss a helluva lot more this morning than I did after it occurred. Winning the Rose Bowl was all that mattered and I wasn’t really focused on much else yesterday, but today I’m just gloating at the meltdown currently in high-gear on The Plains. They’re kind of stuck with Gus and his bus for a while, aren’t they?
- Jim Harbaughahahahahahahhahahahahahah. The bloom is off that rose, ain’t it?
- I watched Michigan’s field goal kicker grab his junk yesterday in an offensive gesture towards South Carolina’s bench early in the Outback Bowl. Karma is a bitch, isn’t it? I think the rules committee should include a new provision that immediately disqualifies any player who does this kind of crap in the future. This includes throat slashes (yeah, looking at you, Mr. Mayfield), too.
As Always, GO DAWGS!