ATLANTA — The champs are nonetheless alive.
going by way of their largest second-half deficit of the season in the direction of an Ohio State group that found and exploited all their weaknesses, the Georgia Bulldogs mounted a livid fourth-quarter rally to win the Peach Bowl, forty two-forty one, and advance to the school soccer Playoff championship recreation for the third time in school historic previous. After ready forty years between nationwide titles, Georgia will face TCU on Jan. 9 making an try to level out into the essential program to return-to-again since Alabama in 2011 and 2012.
And the play that helped launch them there would possibly want been — of all issues — a timeout.
Trailing by eleven factors inside the fourth quarter and anticipating to get the ball again, Georgia coach Kirby good sniffed out a faux punt and obtained a timeout referred to as simply earlier than Ohio State snapped the ball on what would have been a essential down for the Buckeyes.
instead, Georgia obtained the ball again and scored on the very subsequent play, a seventy five-yard cross from senior quarterback Stetson Bennett to a large open Arian Smith. After holding Ohio State to a forty eight-yard area aim with 2:forty three remaining, Georgia obtained the ball again needing solely a touchdown to win.
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And Bennett, who struggled for a lot of the third quarter, delivered. Driving the Bulldogs seventy two yards in 5 performs, Bennett found Adonai Mitchell inside the left nook of the tip zone with fifty 4 seconds remaining. the one question was whether or not Georgia truly left Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud an extreme quantity of time.
Stroud drove the Buckeyes into scoring place, however kicker Noah Ruggles badly shanked a 50-yard area aim effectively left of the uprights with three seconds left, permitting Georgia to flee.
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listed under are three observations from the Bulldogs’ win:
Stetson Bennett struggled till it mattered most
The Bulldogs’ senior quarterback has been in a quantity of large video games and performed effectively in them, collectively with final yr after they beat Alabama for the nationwide championship. however for a large portion of this recreation, Bennett seemed inexperienced, jittery and indecisive inside the large moments.
inside the third quarter, Bennett accomplished simply 1-of-three passes whereas Georgia had simply 33 complete yards and appeared fully out of its play-calling rhythm. Had the Bulldogs misplaced this recreation, Bennett would have shouldered a quantity of the blame, collectively with an interception he threw inside the essential half that arrange the Buckeyes for a quick area that they transformed proper into a touchdown for a 21-7 lead.
however Bennett, the earlier stroll-on, obtained here alive inside the clutch. Trailing 38-24, Bennett accomplished 10-of-12 passes inside the fourth quarter with two touchdowns so as to add one other chapter to his legendary profession. With Georgia struggling to run the ball inside the second half — that they had simply 12 yards on the underside — the Bulldogs’ solely likelihood was for Bennett to step up. He did.
The aggressive Buckeyes confirmed up – and executed
For no matter purpose, an Ohio State offense that is purported to be all gasoline, no brakes turtled up inside the Michigan recreation. That included coach Ryan Day, who made some shockingly conservative decisions inside the second half as issues have been slipping away.
however given a second likelihood to enhance their season, the Buckeyes have been decided to let all of it hand round inside the semifinals. figuring out that their solely likelihood on this matchup was to revenue from a shaky Georgia cross protection, Ohio State did not fear an extreme quantity of about establishing the run and instead leaned on Stroud to problem the secondary at every alternative.
The question was whether or not the Buckeyes’ offensive line may defend him effectively ample for a full recreation to make it work.
It did. Georgia solely obtained Stroud on the underside 4 occasions, with havoc-wreaking defensive sort out Jalen Carter oddly a non-subject for a lot of of the sport.
When Stroud had time to throw and a clear pocket, it was virtually goal observe with open receivers all by way of the sector. the elevated of them, Marvin Harrison, Jr., seemingly may not be lined by Georgia’s defensive backs and accomplished with 106 yards on 5 catches. Harrison did not return to the sport after taking a vicious hit from Javon Bullard behind the tip zone shut to the tip of the third quarter, which could have been an component inside the fourth quarter.
Stroud accomplished 23-of-34 for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns, taking half in his best recreation when it mattered most. It simply wasn’t pretty ample for Ohio State to win.
Georgia virtually misplaced in consequence of “center Eight”
Coaches and analytics gurus more and more level to the 4 minutes earlier than halftime and the 4 minutes after halftime — the so-referred to as “center Eight” — as a very important stretch the place a quantity of video games are obtained and misplaced.
And that’s the place the Buckeyes virtually stole the sport
After getting a key cease to maintain Georgia to a 32-yard area aim with 1:forty 4 left inside the half, Ohio State motored down the sector in fifty five seconds, ending the drive with a 37-yard cross from Stroud to Xavier Johnson to take a 28-24 lead into intermission.
Ohio State then obtained here out inside the second half and compelled a quick three-and-out on protection, then went 70 yards in six performs to take command of the sport. That put Georgia, which had solely wished to return from behind as quickly as earlier this season in the direction of Missouri, proper into a place with which it was clearly unfamiliar and uncomfortable. From that time on, Georgia appeared to be hanging inside the sport by a fingernail, with every Ohio State possession having the potential to interrupt issues open.
however Georgia’s protection obtained organized simply in time, holding Ohio State’s offense to a few area-aim makes an try and two punts on its final 5 possessions.