Come on. This can’t be happening. The term “dream season” is often overused, but how can you not call this year a dream season for the Georgia Bulldogs? There is one more chapter left as Georgia will play for the national championship Monday in their own backyard.
The Rose Bowl was crazy. If you were there, you’ll probably call it one of the best games you’ve ever seen. If you watched in on television, you’ll probably call it one of the best games you’ve ever seen. It was simply incredible.
Georgia was dead just before halftime, and then for some reason Oklahoma squib kicked a kickoff with only a few seconds remaining. Forget about this Georgia team taking a knee, as previous teams might have done. This one said, “OK, we’ve got five seconds to score.”
That’s exactly what they did. Jake Fromm, who will never have to pay for a meal in his life, threw one pass to set up Rodrigo Blankenship for a record 55-yard field goal. That one play changed everything. It gave Georgia a sliver of hope that would keep the momentum on their side for most of the rest of the night.
Then, an Oklahoma offense that had its way with the Georgia defense in the first half was shut down in the third quarter. Call it an adjustment, a momentum switch or whatever. Georgia was hell bent on not letting Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield have a record-setting day in Pasadena.
The defense swarmed Mayfield, with sacks and pressures and a relentless pursuit that made you feel the game was turning. While the defense was doing its thing, the offense just kept producing. Fromm was efficient and the running backs, well, they just kept running.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are now the best running back duo in college football history, with 8,284 career yards. They showed it Monday with 326 yards, as they just kept running on an Oklahoma defense that will never be confused with Alabama’s unit. And even after a Michel fumble allowed Oklahoma to take the lead, he would have the last laugh.
As reporters, we are allowed special privileges. I sincerely wish all of you could have been with me on the field in the overtime. It’s hard to articulate just how amazing it was on a field that was seeing one of its best games ever. It was the Rose Bowl, not just any other bowl game, and Georgia was winning one of the best games in its history.
After the game, the conversation I had with Georgia fans was just that. I asked if Monday’s game was one of the best they had ever seen. Some brought up the 1980 Georgia-Florida game, with the great Belue-to-Scott touchdown pass. Some brought up a 21-0 victory Georgia had over Alabama and Bear Bryant in 1976. They all said Monday’s game was at least in their top three.
Why should we be surprised this year’s team would provide that type of game? This season has had more thrills than we could have ever imagined. Georgia isn’t supposed to still be playing, at least not this year. This isn’t supposed to be happening in Kirby Smart’s second year as head coach.
But, my oh my, it is happening. A Georgia fan base that might have given up hope it would ever see a championship again might get its wish next Monday night. This happens in Alabama all the time. For Georgia, this is historic. This is a dream, a pinch-me moment that fans really can’t believe is happening.
And it’s not over just yet.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.