The Sooners led by as many as 17 points in their College Football Playoff semifinal Monday but couldn't hold on, as Georgia rallied for a dramatic, 54-48 victory in double overtime in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.
"It's already setting in," the Heisman Trophy quarterback said afterward. "I've thought about it for so long -- the loss in 2015 to Clemson [in the College Football Playoff semifinal] for so long. We talked about it a lot, that we get another chance to finish it out the right way. We had a special team. It's been a good ride. But to know it didn't end up the way we wanted it to is the toughest part."
Georgia blocked Oklahoma's 27-yard field goal attempt in the second overtime before Bulldogs running back Sony Michel ended the game with a 27-yard scoring dash.
In his final outing, Mayfield passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught his first career touchdown off a reverse pass with six seconds to go in the first half, which gave the Sooners a 31-14 lead.
But Mayfield also threw an interception early in the fourth quarter deep in Oklahoma territory that set up Georgia's first lead of the game. The Sooners failed to score a touchdown in overtime.
"There were a lot of mistakes, which happens in the good games and the bad games," Mayfield said. "That will be remembered. But I gave it everything I had. That's what I've always been about."
Mayfield tweeted his appreciation to fans after the loss.
Thank you Sooner Nation. Thank you for giving me never ending support. I hope you know I gave it everything I had. It has been and unbelievable ride and I'm so glad we enjoyed it together. I love y'all. God Bless and Boomer. -Bake
— Baker Mayfield (@baker_mayfield6) January 2, 2018
Mayfield had been sick all week with flu-like and cold symptoms, which forced him to skip several non-football Rose Bowl events leading up to the game. He was hoarse after the loss, noting his voice began to fade as the game wore on. But he said "it didn't take a toll or have any negative effect" on his energy as the Oklahoma offense sputtered after halftime.
"I felt fine," he said. "Just, quite frankly, just missed throws. Didn't make the throws I normally make, and that showed."
Mayfield's brilliant career on the field also endured its share of controversial moments, and that continued Monday. After Georgia missed a field goal in the first quarter, cameras caught Mayfield making what appeared to be a throat-slashing motion, causing a stir on social media.
"It wasn't that, it was not a throat-slash thing," he said after the game. "It's when you get up on a team, you talk about stepping on their throat, having the mentality to bury them when you're up. And obviously we did not do that. We let them back in the game, and they took advantage of that."
Even though his career ended without a national championship, Mayfield's rise figures to go down as one of the most improbable ones in recent college football history. Since the NCAA began allowing athletic scholarships in 1950, no player had won the Heisman as a former walk-on until Mayfield did it this season.
Mayfield said he'll be looking forward to his next chapter and preparing for the upcoming NFL draft. But playing at the next level won't quite be the same.
"I grew up a Sooner fan -- it's been a dream come true," he said. "I've talked to the guys, former teammates in the league now, it's just different. There's something about playing for OU, and the atmosphere is something you can only dream of.
"It's set in. I never get to put this jersey on again, I never get to play with coach [Lincoln] Riley again. ... I can't believe it's over. It's been a wild ride."