LOS ANGELES, CA-The stage has been set. The moment has finally has arrived for college football’s wonder boy. There is no more hiding. No stage in college football is bigger than the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. The 2018 version of the Rose Bowl Game is part of the round of four teams participating in two College Football Playoff semifinal games. No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia are front and center in this year’s mercurial matchup.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Rose Bowl,” Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield said. “I’ve heard that there’s not a blade of grass out of place. There’s nothing like it. People call it the Granddaddy of Them All, I think. Everybody talks about it, but until you’re out there, it’s not really a true thing for you.”
When it comes to great Rose Bowl Game performances, Vince Young transformed himself into an iconic figure with his back-to-back, otherworldly performances against Michigan and the University of Southern California. Young’s one-man show against the No. 1 USC Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl Game is still the greatest performance showcased in a national championship game. Period. That is unless Mayfield shows up and shows out against the Georgia Bulldogs.
In the 2016 Rose Bowl Game, USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley tried their best to wade into Young’s legendary territory with the way they put both teams on their backs to carry the Trojans and Nittany Lions to one of the all-time Rose Bowl games. Darnold and Barkley traded one superlative play after another to help folks recall the day Young put on his hard hat and went to work against the USC defense.
The USC-Penn State contest rivaled the intensity of the Texas-USC football game in stature and in the must-watch category. Young’s legend was cemented as he rallied the Longhorns from a 18-point hole to help Texas win its first national title. Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart and then Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush presented a formidable challenge to Young, but the Texas star refused to blink as he led Texas to a 41-38 win.
Mayfield is presented with the opportunity to make his mark on the game as well. Like Young, Mayfield makes a lot of plays with his legs and feet. He’s a real pain in the neck to defenses because he can throw the ball pretty good. His 2017 regular stat sheet reads: 4,340 passing yards and 41 touchdowns against just five picks.
For good measure, Mayfield picked up 310 yards rushing and scored an additional five touchdowns on the season. For a program that hasn’t won the national championship since 2000, individual statistics take a backseat to team glory, said Mayfield during the Rose Bowl Game media day at he L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles, California.
“The tradition at OU is something that is special, so a national title is obviously the most important thing,” Mayfield said. “It would be huge for our fan base. They’ve been talking about it. After our Big 12 game, they kept saying, two more, two more, and that’s just the truth. We have our eyes set on the big one, but to get there we have to take care of business right now, and that’s all that matters.”
In 2016, Mayfield threw for 3,965 yards and produced 40 touchdowns through the air. The 2015 season saw Mayfield go for 3,700 yards passing and 36 touchdowns. A one-year wonder Mayfield is not. The type of numbers that Mayfield has put up throughout his career are simply stupendous.
Then when you consider that Mayfield has been a walk-on quarterback twice during his collegiate career, being considered a special player might be an understatement. There’s even talk that Mayfield could be the greatest player to come out of Oklahoma. Those are some pretty big shoes to step into. Oklahoma running backs Billy Sims, Gary Owens and quarterback Sam Bradford were pretty hot in their heyday, so that just might be just gossip fodder.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Mayfield said. “The thing for me is we talk about it all the time, hanging up a banner in our indoor facility, and the big one would be a national title banner. I’m not worried about the statue. I came back to win the big banner.”
Mayfield is a bona-fide baller. He’s a play-maker who operate as a sensational dual-threat quarterback. Mayfield is not quite like Young, who relied more on his legs than what the Oklahoma signal-caller does. Mayfield is more about getting the ball down the field with the help of his right arm. But he does have a dash of Young’s feet at his disposal should he need to bail out of trouble from time-to-time.
” It’s not over,” Mayfield said. “You know, the best is yet to come.”