Kirby Smart: Mayfield like ‘Brett Favre back in the day’

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drew a Brett Favre comparison from Georgia coach Kirby Smart. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Kyle Phillips

NORMAN — Baker Mayfield remains the No. 5-best quarterback eligible for the NFL draft, according to CBSSports.com, behind top-ranked Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. 

The Oklahoma quarterback’s 6-foot-1 height still causes pundits to question his professional football future, despite his record pass efficiency marks and 41-to-5 touchdown-interception ratio this season.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart struggled to find a proper comparison for Mayfield, who will lead the No. 2 Sooners against Smart’s No. 3 Bulldogs in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.

Smart settled on Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, an 11-time pro bowl selection who won Super Bowl XXI with the Green Bay Packers, and is only an inch taller than Mayfield. Favre was a second-round draft pick.

“[Mayfield’s] such a good athlete, and he's got a thick build, and he stretches and extends plays, extremely explosive. Not afraid to make any throws,” Smart said. “Obviously [Mayfield’s] a better athlete, and he’s got the gunslinger mentality that he can make all the throws.”

Mayfield’s playing style — brash and emotional — is icing on the cake, in Smart’s eyes.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the games he's played in, and just the pageantry and the passion with which he plays,” Smart said. “It's really what college football is about, and he's obviously a phenomenal player that makes everyone around him better.”

• The great debate: Words flew rampantly on television and social media Sunday after the College Football Playoff committee admitted Alabama into the four-team playoff, over Big Ten champion Ohio State.

Omitting a Power 5 conference champion usually raises concerns over college football’s postseason system.

OU coach Lincoln Riley called the committee’s decision a tough one, but felt fortunate to sleep soundly Saturday night, knowing the Sooners scheduled well enough to fortify their 12-1 record.

“We saw first hand how good that Ohio State was. They’re really good. I know Alabama is really good, too. It’s tough,” he said. “You’re sitting there looking at that and how much do you figure in conference championships, which, this year, didn’t end up figuring in as much.

“[There were] a couple Power 5 conferences that got left out. But, at the same time, too, you go back and look at the overall body of work and you could make a strong argument for both schools. They had to pick one.”

Many are making the annual case to expand the playoff to eight teams.

“That’s why there’s never a great answer on [expansion],” Riley said. “There’s always going to be a really good team that’s one spot out of it. It makes you appreciate being in it.”

• Fromm strong: Riley has a history of coaching quarterbacks, and he likes what Smart has done with Georgia freshman QB Jake Fromm.

“Their young quarterback has come on and played really well. Kirby has obviously done a great job in just a short time,” Riley said.

Fromm’s numbers aren’t staggering — 2,173 yards and 21 touchdowns — but he has only thrown five interceptions.

• Not personal: OU is 7-3 against SEC teams since 2000, but Riley wouldn’t say the Rose Bowl is a challenge between leagues.

Former OU coach Bob Stoops was known for engaging in the debate over the SEC’s dominance.

“To me at this point, it’s not about conference vs. conference,” he said. “It’s about this really good team from Oklahoma going up against a really good team in Georgia.”

• Bulldogs in trouble: Georgia starting linebacker Natrez Patrick and receiver Jayson Stanley were arrested a few hours after Georgia’s 28-7 win over Auburn in Saturday’s SEC title game.

Stanley, who made his first start this season in the game, was arrested for DUI, speeding, and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Patrick, who has started the past two games and is sixth on the team with 35 tackles, was arrested for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Smart didn’t announce punishment for the players Sunday, but said he was disappointed and still gathering information. This marks Patrick’s third arrest since coming to Georgia and second this season. He was suspended four games earlier in the year.

According to the Journal-Constitution, the Georgia student-athlete handbook requires a two-game suspension for a DUI, and an automatic dismissal for a third arrest. 

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