Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: Georgia 54 – Oklahoma 48

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Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: Georgia 54 – Oklahoma 48

Sony Michel (1) - Rose Bowl, 2nd quarter, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 -
Sony Michel (1)
– Rose Bowl, 2nd quarter, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 –



Kevin Butler, former University of Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2017 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 54-48 double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a win that advanced Georgia to the CFP National Championship Game against Alabama next Monday in Atlanta.





Georgia senior tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who rushed for 181 and 145 yards respectively with Michel scoring three touchdowns rushing and one by receiving and Chubb tallying two touchdowns. Michel had touchdown runs of 75, 38 and 27 yards with his 27-yarder in the second overtime being the game winner.


“Once again in the Rose Bowl the duo of Sony and Nick rose to the top,” said Butler. “The performance was one for the ages in the 104th Rose Bowl for a chance to play in the national championship game. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb dominated a hapless Oklahoma’s defense for over 300 combined rushing yards. Long runs from both Michel and Chubb pushed Georgia back into the game from a 17-point deficit. A rare fumble by Sony gave Oklahoma the lead only to have Chubb tie the game up in the last minutes. Sony’s touchdown in overtime kept Georgia’s dreams alive and propelled them into the national championship game. They now stand as the most productive tailback duo in college football history. That is the definition of damn good dogs!”


Sony Michel (1), Roquan Smith (3), and Nick Chubb celebrating the 54-48 win with the Rose bowl College Football Playoff trophy (Photo by Rob Saye)
Sony Michel (1), Roquan Smith (3), and Nick Chubb celebrating the 54-48 win with the Rose bowl College Football Playoff trophy
(Photo by Rob Saye)



Junior linebacker Roquan Smith and senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Smith again led the Bulldogs in tackles with 11 including one tackle-for-loss and Carter totaled 10 tackles and had maybe the play of the game when he blocked an Oklahoma field goal attempt in the second overtime, enabling Georgia to complete the amazing comeback with Michel’s 27-yard scoring jaunt.


“Once again the seniors made their presence felt on defense,” said Butler. “Roquan and Lorenzo have been the leaders on and off the field and the Rose Bowl was no different. With 11 tackles Roquan worked very hard to slow down the No. 1 offense in America and as usual got stronger as the game went longer. Lorenzo‘s containment of Baker Mayfield helped Georgia improve in the second half and allowed the offense to pull Georgia back into the lead. Lorenzo is special and it showed in his role on special teams with the block of Oklahoma’s field goal attempt in OT to give Georgia an open door to the championship. These are two of the greatest Georgia defenders in history and have an opportunity to write history Monday in the national championship game versus Alabama.”


Sophomore placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship and redshirt sophomore linebacker Tae Crowder. Blankenship booted a career long and Rose Bowl record 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to enable the Bulldogs to pull within 31-17 of the Sooners at halftime and set the stage for the stirring second-half comeback. He also connected on a 38-yard field goal in the first overtime. And Crowder continued to excel on Georgia’s kickoff team in the upending of the Sooners and secured the Sooners’ squib kick in the final six seconds of the half, which backfired on Oklahoma and set up Blankenship’s 55-yard kick with one second remaining.


“It’s hard to remember a field goal that was more important and had the influence that Rodrigo‘s 55- yarder had on the team on the last play of the first half,” said Butler. “With the team down 17 points, Rodrigo’s field goal gave Georgia a positive attitude heading into the locker room. They turned that attitude into a 21-0 early stretch in the third period. Rodrigo’s field goal in overtime pushed Georgia into the second OT. His continued dominance on kickoffs helps eliminate the big play that a kickoff return can bring to your opponent.”


“Tae Crowder … when a player dedicates himself to be prepared little plays like this don’t happen by chance. Oklahoma tried to outsmart Georgia and Tae made them pay for it. His heads-up play and great hands-on Oklahoma’s squib kick gave Georgia an opportunity to set up Blankenship for a first-half-ending field goal. Tae’s work ethic is the reason why Georgia’s special teams make a difference. Being ready is being confident and confidence comes from preparation. Thank you, Tae!”





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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.