Sony Michel went from possible goat to hero for Georgia, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game with a one last burst in a game full of them.
Michel raced 27 yards for a touchdown in the second overtime to give No. 3 Georgia a 54-48 victory against No. 2 Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal Monday night n Pasadena, Calif.
Michel, who had a fumble in the fourth quarter returned for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown, ran for 181 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs (13-1), but none bigger than the last one.
“I made plays. I gave up plays. My team just had faith in me,” said Michel, who did all that damage on just 11 carries, and got a hug from former Bulldogs great tailback Garrison Hearst after scoring the winning TD. “That’s what this team is all about. They showed true character today.”
In the final game of his great career, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a touchdown pass that gave the Sooners a 17-point lead with 6 seconds left in the first half.
But the Heisman Trophy winner could not get the Sooners (12-2) into the end zone in the first overtime when a touchdown would have ended the game.
“I can’t believe it’s over. It’s been a wild ride,” said Mayfield with a hoarse voice before he started to cry.
The Bulldogs will play Alabama next Monday night for the national championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, about 70 miles from their campus. After Georgia made its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1943 a rousing, 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 Penn State. There was a lot more on the line in this one, the first CFP game to go to overtime as well.
“It’s tough to describe right now,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said of the loss. “It’s a hell of a college football game. You know, an epic Rose Bowl game.”
Michel’s roommate and running mate Nick Chubb ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder on a direct snap with 55 seconds left in regulation to tie it. The Sooners had taken a 45-38 lead when Steven Parker returned Michel’s fumble for a TD with 6:52 left in the fourth.
“I told him that he had to keep running and trying to hit the corner,” Chubb said. “We had a long game and after the fumble, we went down and he made up for it with that run to win the game.”
No. 4 Alabama 24, No. 1 Clemson 6: A pair of Alabama defensive players scored touchdowns 13 seconds apart in the third quarter, and the No. 4 Crimson Tide dominated the top-ranked Tigers in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night in New Orleans to give coach Nick Saban another shot at his record sixth national title.
Da’Ron Payne, a 308-pound defensive lineman, hauled in a 1-yard touchdown pass to put the Tide ahead 17-6. On Clemson’s next play, Kelly Bryant’s pass deflected off the hands of his receiver and was picked off by Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for a clinching TD.
The third straight playoff meeting between the college football powerhouses was a dud compared to their previous two meetings, both high-scoring classics with the national championship on the line.
Without Deshaun Watson, Clemson (12-2) simply had no answer for Saban’s latest group of defensive standouts, sending Alabama (12-1) to an all-Southeastern Conference showdown against Georgia next Monday night in Atlanta.