The last time the Georgia Bulldogs played in the Rose Bowl Game in 1943, gas was 15 cents, Pasadena’s Jackie Robinson had not yet broken the color barrier in Major League Baseball and the historic bowl game was returning to Pasadena after being moved to North Carolina a year earlier due to fears of a West Coast strike by Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Although he was not yet an international figure at that time, Robinson was still a well-known athlete who had left the football team after the 1940 season. UCLA lost to Georgia, 9-0.
On Monday, 64 years later, Georgia will return to the Rose Bowl Game at 5 p.m. on Jan. 1 to face the Oklahoma Sooners in the first matchup between the two teams.
This year, the game steps away from its usual Pac 12/ Big Ten matchup and instead serves as the semifinal playoff game of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
This is the first time neither the Pac 12 nor Big Ten champion will play in the game since the 2001 season.
The Rose Bowl Games has been part of the College Football Playoff system since 2015 and hosts one of its semi-final games every three years. During non-playoff years, the Rose Bowl reverts to the traditional Pac-12/Big Ten matchup.
The Sooners last appeared in the Rose Bowl in 2003, when they defeated Washington State 34-14. In the 2018 Rose Bowl Game, the Sooners will be led by Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.
During the regular season, Mayfield threw for 4,340 yards, completing 71 percent of his passes while throwing 41 touchdown passes and just five interceptions.
Mayfield led the Sooners to the Grandaddy of Them All by throwing 18 touchdowns in November alone and leading Oklahoma to double-digit wins in its last six games. The Sooners exceeded expectations in week two of the season by defeating Ohio State, which this year won the Big Ten championship. In October, that victory looked like a fluke win after the Sooners lost to Iowa.
Despite his great season, Mayfield will have to contend with a tough and powerful Bulldog defense.
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith has led the way on defense with 113 tackles, including 10.5 tackles that resulted in a loss of yardage for opponents.
The powerful defense has been stingy with points, allowing just three opponents to score more than 14 points this season.
On offense, the Bulldogs have a strong running attack led by Nick Chubb who rushed for 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Sony Michel ran for 948 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has had an excellent year, passing for 2,173 yards while completing 63 percent of his passes with 21 TDs and five interceptions.
Fromm stepped up after starting quarterback Jacob Eason went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season and led the team to a win over Notre Dame.
Georgia was later humbled by Auburn, but came back for revenge, beating Auburn 28-7 for the SEC title.
The win marked Georgia’s first SEC title in 12 years and the first time anyone besides Alabama beat Auburn since 2011.
In that game, the defense held the outstanding Auburn offense to just 257 yards. The Bulldogs ran for 238 yards on 41 carries and committed no turnovers, leading some to believe that Georgia could win it all.
The Bulldogs’ ride to Pasadena began two years ago when the school hired then-Alabama assistant coach Kirby Smart to run the football program.