It was the first quarter of the Rose Bowl, after Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 48-yard field goal, when Baker Mayfield used his thumb to mimic slashing his throat.
“It’s over,” Mayfield, the Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, appeared to say.
At the time, Georgia trailed 14-7. At different points in the first half, the game appeared to slip out of Georgia’s grasp. It trailed by as many as 17 points. Georgia’s heralded defense, the one that had carried the team all season, was like a broken dam.
But Mayfield celebrated too soon. Georgia would win the game 54-48 in double-overtime, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game and ending Mayfield’s prolific career with a loss.
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On the field, Mayfield has become synonymous with divisive antics. He planted Oklahoma’s flag at midfield following the Sooners’ road win over Ohio State in early September. He has grabbed his crotch, cursed at opposing players and trash talked fans — and that was all in one game, earlier this season, against Kansas. Mayfield apologized after the game. Walking into the Rose Bowl on Monday, Mayfield carried a "Pretenders" sign in reference to what ESPN analyst Lee Corso called the Sooners back in August.
Mayfield was cordial and complimentary of Georgia in the days before the Rose Bowl. As the players warmed up an hour before the game began, Mayfield started catching passes in Georgia’s end zone. He occasionally neared Georgia’s receivers, who warmed up in one of the corners. Typically, players remain on either their team’s side of the 50-yard line.
“Basically, he came out and saw we were warming up over there,” sophomore receiver Tyler Simmons said. “You know how he is, trying to get in your head from the jump. We tried to tell him go to the other side. He was interrupting our drills.”
Warm-ups continued. The game began. For the entirety of the first half, Mayfield shredded Georgia’s defense. He completed 13 of his 18 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. Entering halftime, Mayfield had piloted the Sooners to a 31-17 lead.
The second half was much different. The Bulldogs sacked Mayfield three times. They limited him to 87 yards passing and no touchdowns. Dominick Sanders intercepted Mayfield to set-up a score in the fourth quarter. As Georgia’s offense mounted a comeback, its defense shut down Mayfield.
When the game ended and mayhem ensued on the field, Georgia outside linebacker Davin Bellamy told Mayfield, “Humble yourself.” In reference to Mayfield, Bellamy repeated the phrase in Georgia’s locker room half an hour later.
“Humble yourself all times, man,” Bellamy said. “If you don't, God will.”
Asked why he told Mayfield that, Bellamy repeated the phrase once more.
“I don't try to talk about other opponents,” Bellamy said, “but he got all in our wide receivers’ drills pre game. We're the wrong team to give fire to.”
In the end, after congratulating some of Georgia’s players, Mayfield exited the field with his helmet on and his mouth closed.