By Michael Kinney
PASADENA – It was within their grasp. Everything Oklahoma had fought and battled for throughout its record breaking season was there for the taking.
However, just when it looked like the Sooners got close enough to take it, it was Georgia reached in and snatched it from them.
No. 2 Oklahoma fell 54-48 in double overtime to the third-ranked Bulldogs Monday in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Rose Bowl.
Georgia earned a spot in the national championship where they will face SEC foe Alabama.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, will have an entire offseason to look back at how they gave away their shot at a national championship.
In the second overtime, the Sooners got the ball first. As it had been most of the second half, Baker Mayfield and the offense was ineffective. Unable to reach the end zone, they had to settle for a field goal attempt.
Austin Seibert had just hit a clutch field goal in the first overtime to tie the contest. Unfortunately for OU, in the second overtime, Seibert’s 27-yard kick was blocked.
That meant all the Dawgs needed to do was kick their own field goal and the game would be over. However, fittingly, Georgia ended the game in the same fashion they had tortured Oklahoma with all night. Sony Michel took a hand-off from Jake Fromm and went around the left end untouched for a walk-off 27-yard touchdown run.
The Oklahoma defense gave up 527 total yards. That included 317 on the ground.
“They’re talented backs,” said OU senior Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. “You know, they’re really good guys. We knew that going in. They’re going to make plays. You know there’s only so much you can do.”
It was a devastating loss for a squad that believed it was good enough to wear the championship crown this season.
“It’s a hell of a college football game, an epic Rose Bowl Game,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “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.”
In his final game wearing an OU jersey, Mayfield threw for 267 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 23 of 35 pass attempts.
It was not Mayfield’s best game by far. But he refused to blame it on the flu he fought earlier in the week
“I felt fine,” Mayfield said. “Just, quite frankly, I missed throws. Didn’t make the throws I normally make and that showed.”
The loss left Mayfield visibly shaken as he contemplated ending his career without bringing a title to Oklahoma.
“It’s already setting in. I’ve thought about the loss in 2015 to Clemson 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.”