PASADENA, Calif. — You might say the national college football championship semifinal in that most historic of stadiums Rose to the occasion. In the end, so did the University of Georgia.
The third-ranked Bulldogs verified their nickname Monday night by coming back from repeated deficits to beat second-ranked Oklahoma, 54-48, in two overtimes and advance to the championship final.
Georgia (13-1) — which came back from a 31-14 second-quarter deficit — will play fourth-ranked Alabama (12-1) in the title game Monday in Atlanta.
If this wasn’t a traditional Rose Bowl matching teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12, it was one of the great Rose Bowls, and the first in 106 years to go to overtime.
Sony Michel, the offensive player of the game, scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner on a 27-yard run in the second overtime after Lorenzo Carter blocked a 27-yard field-goal attempt by Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert.
“It wasn’t one play that won or lost the game,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. He seemed less upset than Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who despite winning said, “Man, we stunk it up and played really bad.”
The Bulldogs were competing against the Heisman Trophy winner, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns and caught a short TD pass but was sacked five times and threw a key interception on the first play of the fourth quarter that was returned 39 yards to the Sooners’ 4. In two plays, Georgia scored to take a 38-31 lead.
Offense sells football, and the game had plenty of it. Oklahoma gained 531 yards, Georgia 527. Michel had 181 yards rushing on only 11 carries and Rodney Anderson of Oklahoma had 201 yards on 26 carries and two TDs.
When the Sooners (12-2) took a 7-0 lead 3 1⁄2 minutes into the game on Mayfield’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown and Georgia tied it three minutes later on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fromm to Michel, there was no doubt the game would be high-scoring.
“Our kids are so resilient,” Smart said. “They never stopped chopping wood. We didn’t play the way we are capable of, but the best news is we get a chance to play again.”
Oklahoma won’t get another chance until next season. “It’s tough to describe right now,” Riley said. “It’s a hell of a college football game. An epic Rose Bowl game.”
Maybe that’s hyperbole, but not by much. There was a game-record 55-yard field goal by Rod rigo Blankenship to bring Georgia to within 31-17 at the end of the first half. There was a 38-yard touchdown run by Michel that tied the score at 31-31 at the end of the third.
Michel also had a 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Georgia’s Nick Chubb rushed for 145 yards on 14 carries, including touchdowns of 50 yards in the third quarter and 2 yards to tie it at 45 with 55 seconds left in regulation.
The Sooners had taken a 45-38 lead when Steven Parker returned Michel’s fumble 46 yards for a TD with 6:52 left in the fourth.
“I don’t think we played to the level we’re capable of,’’ Smart said. “I do think the players fought, and [Oklahoma] is a good football team. I want to give a lot of kudos to the offense for staying behind us and fighting, and the defensive players for doing that.”
He added, “Look, 27 [Chubb] and 1 [Michel] put this team on their shoulders. And all they do, they do right. They’re in special teams, and they compete.”