Ohio State Football: Peach Bowl Preview Against Georgia

Emeka Egbuka at Practice | Peach Bowl CFP Semifinal 2022-23 | Image Credit: The Ohio State University Department of Athletics
Emeka Egbuka at Practice | Peach Bowl CFP Semifinal 2022-23 | Image Credit: The Ohio State University Department of Athletics

The World Famous Ohio State Buckeyes will challenge defending champion Georgia for a spot in the National Championship in the Peach Bowl.

The Ohio State football team is back in the College Football Playoff, facing defending champion Georgia in the Peach Bowl. The Buckeyes will travel to SEC territory to face the Bulldogs in the program’s second home in Atlanta. Saturday night will be Ohio State’s first appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, and it can become the first school to win each of the New Year’s Six Bowl Games with a victory over Georgia. 

Offensive Keys to Peach Bowl

CJ Stroud will have to be the difference-maker for Ohio State if the Buckeyes want to beat Georgia on Saturday night. The quarterback has been tremendous with a clean pocket all year long. He can dissect the defense with time in the pocket, where he is the best in college football. Stroud has Marvin Harrison Jr., the top receiver in the country, Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming as a supporting cast. 

Moreover, Stroud hasn’t been as sharp under pressure when the pocket collapses on him. He’s a different quarterback, and Jalen Carter on the interior of Georgia’s defensive line is a force, unlike anything the offensive line or CJ Stroud have dealt with all year. Ryan Day may have to move the pocket or design rollouts to shift the play away from Carter. 

Smart’s defense is strong and fundamentally sound across the board. More importantly, CJ Stroud must stay comfortable and be willing to run and extend plays with his feet. If there’s nothing down the field, Stroud must extend plays with his legs running for 3, 4, and 5 yards because that could be the difference in the game for Ohio State. Simultaneously, it keeps the defense fresh and allows the offense to stay in rhythm. 

Matchups to Watch

Georgia’s defense is so good, but there is a way that Ohio State can exploit the Bulldogs’ weakness. Looking at Georgia’s defense from top to bottom, their strength is definitely on the defensive line, with Jalen Carter on the inside. He is an absolute monster and a game-wrecker, and you have to scheme for him because you have to account for him on every play. Ultimately, the goal is to tire him out and take advantage of his occasional sporadic effort, but it’s easier said than done. 

Ohio State’s offensive attack in the vertical passing game will be the key to the game for the Buckeyes. Georgia is susceptible in the back end of their defense. If they can exploit that secondary and get one-on-one coverage with Kelee Ringo on Marvin Harrison Jr, that’s where Georgia gave up a lot of yards against LSU. Tennessee also took a couple of deep shots, but the weather impacted that game in the second half, throwing the ball-wise. 

Ohio State is a matchup problem for Georgia in that area because this is the best passing attack Kirby Smart’s team will see all year long, no matter what. Marvin Harrison Jr is going to be schemed for with probable safety help over top of his corner, so Julian Fleming, Emeka Egbuka, or even Xavier Johnson will have to step up for Ohio State. 

Peach Bowl Prediction

CJ Stroud needs that reliable second option because Cade Stover had the chance against Michigan but couldn’t capitalize on it. Regardless, it will have to be a flawless performance offensively to beat Georgia. The pathway to doing that is to run the football, take the intermediate throws and hit the ones in rhythm, then take the calculated deep shots and hope they connect and result in chunk yardage plays or even touchdowns. 

Expect this postseason collision to be a four-quarter battle that could come down to which team has the ball last. Georgia’s physicality, Ohio State’s vertical passing game, CJ Stroud’s legs, and the Bulldogs’ tight ends will be the key areas to watch. There’s something intriguing and special about the underdog version of Ohio State. I’m picking the Buckeyes to shock the world in the Peach Bowl. 

Featured Image: The Ohio State University Department of Athletics