Atlanta, GA–A Colossal matchup between SEC juggernaut and defending national champions Georgia Bulldogs, up against the Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff Semifinals. The Georgia Bulldogs are looking to repeat as national champions for the first time in ten years since the Alabama Crimson Tide did so in 2011 and 2012.
In his seven seasons with the Bulldogs, Head Coach Kirby Smart has a 79-15 record and astonishing 48-9 record within the last two seasons going 15-1 in the SEC. Heisman trophy finalist Stetson Bennett is leading one the nations best offenses with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. The senior QB looks to secure a victory to advance on to the championship game.
Looking to disrupt the Buckeye’s offensive flow was Bulldogs star studded defense lead Jalen Carter, who could be the first pick of the 2023 draft. OSU stand in the way of Georgia punching a ticket to Los Angeles, but it wouldn’t be an easy task. The Buckeyes will have potential first QB in the 2023 draft at center stage CJ Stroud and first team All American WR Marvin Harrison Jr. ready to interrupt Georgia’s championship run.
Ohio State backed into the College Football Playoffs losing their final game of the season against their archrival Michigan Wolverines 45-22 at home. Head coach Ryan Day had a golden opportunity to silence all the critics with a ginormous victory over defending national champs Georgia Bulldogs.
They were without pre-season All American Wide Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and sophomore running back Treveyon Henderson in the semifinals game. Huge voids to fill but sophomore WR Emeka Egbuka and freshman running back Dallan Hayden had to pick up the slack to give the Buckeyes that balance on the offensive side of the ball.
The Buckeyes first possession’s offensive philosophy was to get the Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. connection going early in this semifinal contest. The Georgia defense had a different idea in mind bringing on the pressure early and often sacking Stroud making him uncomfortable in the pocket. The Bulldogs offense were hitting on all cylinders but settled for a field goal that was missed wide to the right.
On Ohio State’s second possessions, Marvin Harrison Jr. was exploiting one on one coverage as the Buckeyes continued to push the ball down the field. The Buckeyes struck first blood with a 31 yard strike from Stroud to Harrison Jr. to take a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs second possession of the contest, Georgia displayed their championship pedigree calmly moving the ball down the field against the much-maligned defense of Ohio State. Georgia capped off the scoring drive with eight play 75 yard drive ending it with a 25 yard screen pass from Stetson Bennett to Kenny McIntosh for a touchdown, knotting the game at 7.
The Buckeye’s opened the second quarter aggressively, showing no fear of the Georgia Bulldog defense taking full advantage of one-on-one coverage on the outside wide receivers. Their offensive were very physical at the point of attack, leading the way for 2-yard touchdown run by Miyan Williams for the go ahead score 14-7.
Ohio State’s defense came up with the first turnover of the game, Steele Chambers picked off Bennett. The Buckeyes converted the turnover into points, a frozen rope from Stroud to Harrison Jr. for a 16-yard touchdown (Harrison 2nd TD of the game) giving the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Georgia showed their down the field speed with a 47-yard bomb from Bennett to Arian Smith setting up a 11-yard touchdown by Kendall Milton to cut the lead to 21-14. Running back Kenny McIntosh popped a huge run but the turf monster tripped him up at the three. Bennett capped off the scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game up at 21.
The Bulldogs offensive line exhorted its dominance opening gaping holes for their running backs, settled for a go-ahead field goal and made it 24-21 with seventeen unanswered points put on the board.
Ohio State stormed back with a drive of their own going four plays for 75-yards in 55 seconds, ending with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Xavier Johnson to put them back up 28-24. Stroud showed why he should be the first player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, going 15/19 238 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
The Buckeyes defense forced the first three and out of the game to open the second half in the Peach bowl. Stroud picked up where he left off completing his first three passes of the drive, capping it with a play action fake for a 10-yard touchdown pass to Egbuka to upped the lead to 35-24.
The Buckeyes defense must have gotten the memo that defense isn’t optional stopping the Bulldogs on back-to-back possessions to begin the second half. Ohio State dismantled Georgia’s secondary, Stroud remained red hot and had complete control of the game. They added a field goal to make it 38-24 at the end of the third quarter.
The returning champion Bulldogs began the 4th quarter with sense of urgency going no huddle and up-tempo. Gutsy call by coach Kirby Smart on fourth and six with key catch and run by tight end Brock Bowers. The Bulldogs had to settle for a 31-yard field goal to make the score 38-27. On the next Bulldogs possession, the Georgia speedster Arian Smith scored a 76-yard touchdown on a dime from Bennett and they tacked on a 2-point conversion to trim the lead to 38-35.
Stroud proved to all his doubter that “he is a tough QB” fighting for extra yards instead of sliding with the game hanging in the ballots. The Buckeyes responded with a 48-yard field goal to take the lead 41-35 with 2:43 left in the four quarter.
Bennett orchestrated a remarkable drive late in the fourth to put the Bulldogs up with a 10-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Adonai Mitchell Adonai that put them up 42-41 with 54 seconds left in the game.
The final drive with two time outs and no Marvin Harrison Jr., Stroud put the game on his shoulders with runs of 5 and 27 yards down the stretch setting up a game winning field from 50 yards out that was a little short left! The Georgia Bulldogs move on to the championship facing TCU in Los Angeles. Final Score 42-41!