Sooners get Bulldogs in semifinals


By Michael Kinney

For the second time in the four year history of the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma earned an invitation. But unlike two years ago, the Sooners head into the playoffs feeling confident about what they can accomplish.
I think for us, it’s knowing how we’re going to carry ourselves into it no matter what happens and no matter where we’re at,” Quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “The thing that we’ve learned this year and throughout the past years is sticking together is the most important. The only thing that matters is how we are in the locker room, how we handle ourselves, how we practice, how we play, how we handle ourselves off the field and how we work out.”

The Sooners didn’t find out until Sunday afternoon when the final rankings were released that they would be in the CFP. But they knew going into the Big 12 title game that if they won, they were a near certainty of earning one of the four spots.

That still didn’t numb the excitement of coach Lincoln Riley and the Sooner squad when they saw their name pop up as the No. 2 seed.

“We were pretty confident we were gonna be in,” Riley said, “but it’s exciting to see that OU logo flash across the screen. It lasted a few seconds and that was it.”

The Sooners will face No. 3 seed Georgia Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl. It is the first trip to the playoffs for Georgia. No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Alabama will face off in the other semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.

The winners of the semifinals will advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 8, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The Bulldogs earned a spot in the final four by winning the SEC Championship in convincing fashion over then No. 1 Auburn.

“It’s great to have Georgia in the CFP to go play against another storied program in Oklahoma,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. ‘I have tremendous respect for what Lincoln has done. Bob Stoops actually came and talked to us earlier in the year. We look back on the irony in that. Now we’re up against Oklahoma, who I know has a tremendous program.”

While Georgia is credited with having one of the premier defense in the country, Smart knows his team will have his hands full with Baker Mayfield and high octane offense of the Sooners.

In Mayfield’s three years as the starting quarterback, the Sooners are No. 1 in the nation in ppg (44.1), yards per game (556.1) and yards per play (7.8). Mayfield’s QBR over that span is 88.6, which is is No. 1.

“I tell people all the time {Mayfield} is entertaining to watch,” Smart said. “First of all he is unbelievably talented, he has great athletic ability. Seems like he has been playing forever. He is what college football is about. He embraces it, he loves it. I love the way the guy plays the game. He plays with passion and energy. He is a phenomenal player. I’ll have a lot of sleepless nights over the next 30 days or so.”

Oklahoma is one of the few teams who has had success when facing teams from the SEC. Since 2000 the Sooners are 7-3 against teams from the conference. That includes winning four straight.

But that doesn’t mean Oklahoma doesn’t have a healthy respect for what the Bulldogs bring to the tables defensively.

“They are always a challenge,” Riley said. “There are great defenses in that league. Auburn was tremendous last year. I’ve had a chance to see Georgia a little bit this year. They’re tremendous with great athletes all over the field. Kirby and his staff do such a great job defensively, with their schemes and the way they attack you. It will be a challenge.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with

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