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Georgia v Ohio State, Peach Bowl 2022: Five Keys to Help Pick the College Football Playoff Semifinal Game

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ATLANTA – No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Ohio State will face off Saturday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship on the line. Georgia is coming off a resounding 50-30 win over LSU in the SEC Championship Game, while Ohio State’s loss to No. 2 Michigan rivalry weekend prevented the Buckeyes from winning the Big Ten East and forced them to wait until selection. Sunday.

This game will feature two of the best defenders in the country. Bulldogs star Stetson Bennett IV, a former walk-on, earned a spot in New York as a post-season Heisman Trophy finalist. While there, he made the rounds with CJ Stroud, a two-time Heisman finalist and Buckeyes star, one of the country’s most talented and athletic signalmen.

Simply put, it’s going to be a riveting game Saturday night in Atlanta.

College Football Playoff Affairs: No. 1 Georgia | No. 2 Michigan | No. 3 TCU | Ohio State #4

Keys to the Peach Bowl Semifinals

1. Bulldogs Pass Attack

Georgia’s reputation as a top-notch, action-packed offense simply wasn’t the case in 2022. Bennett and offensive coordinator Todd Monken have designed an extremely versatile unit that features tight end Brock Bowers, wide receiver Ladd McConkey and running back Kenny McIntosh as their top three receivers. That will be a big challenge for a Buckeyes team that conceded three touchdowns to Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy last game.

Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day was asked how angry his defense, and specifically his secondary, was after the 45-23 loss: “They should be. And we all should be. We know what we need to do in this game to to win, and that’s kind of how this month has been for a lot of us in practice every day. There’s been an edge. There’s been friction. There’s been conflict. There’s been a lot of that going on, and that’s a healthy thing. And then the only O good thing is we’re going to play. We’re not going to sit around worrying about what would happen or anything like that. Nobody really gives us a chance to win this game. So let’s let’s play as long as we can and look up after four quarters and see where we are.”

Were Ohio State’s defensive struggles a peek into its true identity or something atypical? The answer to that burning question will likely determine the outcome of this game.

2. Battle in the trenches

Ohio State’s star running back TreVeyon Henderson, who rushed for 571 yards and six touchdowns, will not play due to a foot injury, which will put a lot of pressure on Miyan Williams. However, Williams led the Buckeyes with 817 yards and 13 touchdowns. Williams proved he can handle the pressure when he has a running mate, but he will need help from the big guys up front.

Ohio State features second-team All-Americans Dawand Jones and Paris Johnson Jr. in the trenches, and Georgia’s defensive front is anchored by first-team All-American defensive lineman Jalen Carter. If you like old school football, this game is for you. The winner of that battle will move on to Los Angeles and the CFP National Championship.

“It’s a great matchup. You look at the board, there are a lot of great matchups in this game. This is one of the more interesting ones because they certainly are very talented on the offensive line,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “We have a big group, a lot of experience, and our defensive line will be challenged. [Linebacker] nolan [Smith] be down. We kind of do it by committee now out of Jalen, and it’s going to be a great competitive match for both groups.”

3. Bennett’s Athletics

The senior averaged 263.5 passing yards per game, but his running ability is something Ohio State’s players and coaches have noticed. Bennett is more than a willing runner. He is a difference maker. He expects Monken to use his legs as part of the game plan. If he can get Ohio State’s linebackers into conflict, it could be a long night in Atlanta for the Buckeyes.

“We have to run together,” said Ohio State defensive lineman Zach Harrison. “All four of us running together. When we send guys out, the linebackers are doing the same thing. Just nobody trying to get greedy and come in and get one and leave a gap open. Just running together, and we’ll get home.”

4. These Ohio State Wideouts Are Troublesome

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is unable to play on Saturday, as he has been for most of the season. Despite this, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka surpassed the 1,000-yard mark as Ohio State produced the best passing offense in the Big Ten (294.2 yards per game). Simply put, this is the most dangerous passing offense Georgia has faced all season. Why? Because the Ohio State reception room is full.

“Talent, lots of talent, well trained,” said Smart. “They come from a room that has a pedigree – everybody knows Ohio State field tons of wide receivers. And these guys have followed in the footsteps of some really great players. So, you know they’ve watched these really talented guys work and perform, and they’re as good as these guys are. It’s as good a group as I’ve ever seen.”

Georgia safety Christopher Smith earned first-team AP All-American honors, Kelee Ringo won last year’s national title game with a pick six, and the Bulldogs and depth on the defensive back end are comparable those of a pool used for competitive divers. It will be strength against strength. If Ohio State’s passing offense, and specifically Stroud, can force this game into a grass run, it will give the Buckeyes their best chance at a comeback.

5. Crowd factor

This will be the third time in 2022 that Georgia will play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and their first two matches went very well. The victory over LSU was the end of a resounding 49-3 victory over Oregon in the opener. The LSU game looked like a de facto home contest for the Bulldogs, with the Tigers crowd heavily outnumbered and silent for the entire 60 minutes. Will that be the case again? It looks like the Ohio State fans came in droves, judging by the weather in the city, but it’s not like the Georgia fans have to travel far.

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