Georgia rode its vaunted run game right into the College Football Playoff national championship game with a 54-48 win over Oklahoma in Monday’s Rose Bowl.
The Bulldogs went to freshman quarterback Jake Fromm (who finished going 20-for-29 for 210 passing yards and two touchdowns) early on, but after falling behind 17 points at halftime, Georgia Coach Kirby Smart got the ball to his best players: Running backs Sony Michel, who notched the game-winner, and Nick Chubb. The duo finished the game with 326 yards between them on only 25 attempts.
The Bulldogs ended up outrushing the Sooners 317 yards to 242, though Oklahoma just barely had the edge in total yards of offense, with 531 to Georgia’s 527.
Let’s run through the cliff’s notes of Georgia’s come-from-behind win, as it played out on the ground:
The overtime game-winner
It was Sony Michel’s 27-yard touchdown run in double overtime that sealed the win for Georgia. The run also vaulted Michel, a Florida native and the Bulldogs’ second-leading rusher entering Monday’s game behind Chubb, into an elite club. Michel is just one of four players in Rose Bowl history to rush for 150 yards and score four touchdowns, joining Texas’s Vince Young, who did it in 2005, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, in 1999 and UCLA’s Eric Ball in 1986, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The senior finished with 181 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries and averaged 16.5 yards-per-carry. His other touchdown was on a 13-yard pass from Fromm in the first quarter.
The third-quarter equalizer
Michel was a game-changer even before his overtime dash — he also used a 38-yard run late in the third quarter to tie the game at 31. The touchdown was the Bulldogs second during a stretch in which they scored 24-straight points and provided the first big momentum shift in a game that would eventually accumulate too many to count.
It’s generally a good idea for Georgia to put the ball in the hands of its star running back. It’s an especially good idea if Georgia is down 17 points at the start of the second half and its defense just sacked Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Smart entrusted Chubb to keep Bulldogs in the game at the start of the third quarter, and boy, did Chubb deliver. The Georgia native escaped heavy coverage to bulldoze his way to a 50-yard touchdown run and narrow the gap and make it 31-24, Oklahoma, and give fans their first glimpse of the Bulldogs’ comeback effort. Run, Georgia, run.