It’s been 75 years since the Georgia Bulldogs last played in the Rose Bowl, but just is much is at stake now as it was then.
The No. 3 Bulldogs take on second-ranked Oklahoma in the 104th Rose Bowl, which represents the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs.
A win would put the Bulldogs in the national championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Former New Manchester High standout Brian Herrien is a member of the Bulldogs team that will take the field against Oklahoma on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. on ESPN.
“It’s great to be out here and playing in the Rose Bowl Game, this one is big,” Georgia running back Sony Michel. “I know the seniors are getting a lot of credit from the media for this season, but it’s the whole team, the younger guys, the freshmen, they helped make it happen, and they deserve credit too.”
Herrien, a sophomore, wasn’t available for media interviews as the Bulldogs prepared for Monday’s game.
But he has been a big part of the team’s success.
Herrien has played in all 13 of the team’s games, rushing for 265 yards and a touchdown on 61 carries.
As a freshman last season, Herrien rushed for 363 yards on 63 carries, making him the third-leading rusher for the Bulldogs in 2016.
“It’s going to be a great matchup on both sides of the ball,” said Isaiah Wynn on the upcoming Rose Bowl game with the Sooners. “We got back out there at practice because we are treating this as a business trip, and we needed to put the work in today. At the same time, it’s good to have an opportunity to come to Disneyland and step away from football for a few hours and enjoy our time together here as a team.”
The Sooners, the Big 12 Champions, are led by Heisman Trophy quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Coming into the Rose Bowl, Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns with only five interceptions.\
The winner of the Georgia-Oklahoma contest takes on the Clemson-Alabama winner for the national championship.
Clemson is the defending national champion. The Alabama-Clemson game will be played earlier on Monday in the Sugar Bowl.
But Georgia’s focus right now is stopping Oklahoma’s high-powered offense, which is led by Mayfield.
“"Yeah, he's really elite,” Smart said. “It goes up in that category beyond Johnny Manziel when it comes to creativity with the ball. He can make all the throws from all the angles. It's not just the scrambling. It's the fact that when you get to him, you sometimes still can't get him down. He's strong. He's built lower body like a running back. It's like having a wildcat quarterback that can throw it really good. His release and finding guys open has really been amazing. It creates a lot of dynamic for us.”