ATHENS, GA — Two power programs in Georgia and Ohio have been watching each other from close range for the past few years. Competing against each other in recruitment rankings, Justin Fields has seen him transition from one program to another, this time without meeting on the same football field.
That will change in this year’s College Football Playoff Semifinals, which will face off in the Peach Bowl on December 31st. A lot of analysis awaits the Marquee matchup, but here are some first thoughts from Georgia’s angle.
Did Georgia Get a Road Deal?
Many, including those who don’t consider the conspiracy theory, always assume that members of the playoff selection committee are trying to prevent a rematch between Michigan and Ohio in the semifinals. As a result, No. 1 seed Georgia has what is perceived as a tougher game (than Michigan TCU) against No. 4 seed Ohio State.
Still, committee chair Boo Corrigan was armed with a data point when asked about it on Sunday.
“If you look at TCU, it’s 6-1 against teams over .500 and 2-1 against ranked teams,” he said. and was close to Michigan for three-quarters of the game, but eventually returned to TCU, but nothing happened during the game against Kansas State (Big 12 Champions). I couldn’t believe it knocked them out of third place.”
agreement? not really. But there’s not a huge gap between a TCU resume and an Ohio State resume. The only thing that makes Ohio look like a far superior team is the name brand and recognized talent base.
Plus, Georgia and Michigan resumes are exactly the same. Both are undefeated. Michigan has the most impressive wins (in Ohio), but Georgia has won more than any ranked team (5-2).
Michigan will (probably) get an easier matchup, while Georgia will essentially be playing home field. Speaking of…
The origin factor is true but inconclusive
It will be Georgia’s third time playing at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in four months, but it’s almost certain they won’t have the overwhelming divide in crowds they did the first two times. Oregon still has a long way to go, and LSU fans have seen their enthusiasm cool with his out of the playoff hunt.
But Ohio State will receive a guaranteed quota — 12,500 for Michigan at last year’s Peach Bowl — and given the game’s stakes, its fans could hit the secondary market hard. There is a possibility
Still, Georgia should be the majority of the crowd. It’s just a matter of how much. And it gets to know the stadium and gets comfortable there.
“You’re in your backyard against the defending national champion. You need everything to win this game,” said Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who later complained. “Once we get to this point in the season, this is what we have to do. You’re going to be in these electric vibes. Earlier in the season, I played with Georgia at the Peach Bowl. If I had been asked to play against him and reach the semi-finals, of course I would have taken this opportunity to cut off my right arm.”
Well, maybe not literally.
Kirby Smart noted that Georgia’s last two semifinal trips have moved to Los Angeles and Miami. Smart said on a Zoom call that he also went to Norman Dale for a bit.
“The field is exactly the same length as any other field we play,” Smart said.
By reputation, this is a sexy matchup between Ohio’s offense and Georgia’s defense. Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan noted Sunday that Ohio State had the second-best scoring offense in the nation and Georgia had the second-best scoring defense.
But it’s a little simplistic to see it that way. For one thing, the Georgia defense is out of the game giving up his 500+ yard pass to LSU. It was an anomaly — Georgia entered a game ranked #1 in the SEC in pass defense — but it smartly gave it the buzz of the next few weeks.
“You can’t play defense like you did last night or you won’t be a champion of any kind,” Smart said.
Of course, the Georgia offense scored 50 points in the same game, but that’s just the second-most points they’ve scored this season. The Bulldogs ranked him second in yards per play in the SEC behind Tennessee and against five teams he played against, with 49 points (Oregon) and 48 (South Carolina). ), 27 (Tennessee in a rained game). second half), 45 (Mississippi), 50 (LSU).
Ohio State, on the other hand, certainly looked weak in defense against Michigan. But the Buckeyes still rank 18th in the nation in defensive yards per play and 13th in defensive scoring. There is none.
Smart told his team on Sunday that last year’s Georgia team “probably had a different mindset than our team does now.” Last year’s team was emotionally driven by his SEC Championship loss, but this year’s team had to make sure his 13-0 record didn’t lead to complacency.
Smart also noted that Ohio feels something different. Critics might say the Buckeyes are back in the playoffs, but they came out of a loss and humbled themselves, similar to when Alabama made it to his 2017 playoff run.
“There’s a fresh breath of opportunity at Ohio State University,” says Smart. “The excitement and energy that we provide is like a momentum kick that we have to understand and respond to and understand that there are parts you need to know. ”
this is difficult for georgia
The two programs have only met once, 29 years ago, but Smart has seen the Buckeyes in the last decade. Here’s his 2014 CFP semifinals in Alabama.
“Long day. Long day,” Smart said. “That was Ezekiel Elliott, wasn’t it?”
Yes, answered the Ohio-based reporter.
“He crushed an Alabama defense that was pretty talented,” Smart said.
Day did not join the Ohio State program until the 2017 season. But he maintains the same basic, explosive approach to the program. He’s also recruiting at a high level: Ohio State University has the third most talented team in the nation, behind Alabama and Georgia, according to the 247Sports Talent Composite.
Last year, the feeling entered the playoffs that if Georgia didn’t stumble over Michigan, they were headed for a rematch with Alabama. There may be a perception by some that the tougher opponents come first this year, but this may be the result of looking too much at pre-season perceptions. Either way, it looks like Georgia will have to go through both Big Ten powers, and if his team wins again as national champions this year Georgia, he’ll have it.
(Top photo of Kirby Smart: Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)