Leading up to the Peach Bowl, there has been a lot of comparisons to the 2014 Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Entering as an underdog, going down South, suffering one loss in the regular season. The same magic the 2014 Buckeyes had will be needed for this year’s Buckeye team.
There are definitely a few factors that helped Ohio State win eight years ago, and I think some of those same factors have to play a major role on Saturday.
Miyan needs to go off like Zeke
In the Sugar Bowl, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 230 yards on 20 carries and had two touchdowns. Now, I don’t know if this year’s running backs need to rush for over 200 yards (though it would certainly be nice), but they definitely have a pivotal role to play in this game.
Against Michigan, the run game could not get going, and it hurt the Buckeyes bad. However, now with Miyan Williams having had a month to get healthy, he should be at his best. TreVeyon Henderson is unfortunately out, but that just means Dallan Hayden and Chip Trayanum will have to step up when Miyan needs some rest.
All of the pressure can not be on C.J. Stroud’s shoulders. The Buckeyes cannot rely on the pass game to beat this Georgia defense. The offense needs to be firing on all cylinders, and I believe that Williams is going to play a huge part in that.
Production from multiple receivers
The stats from the Sugar Bowl are so interesting. There isn’t anything too shocking, besides Zeke’s stats, but Ohio State did what it needed in order to win. For the receiving core, that meant opportunities for everyone to contribute. Devin Smith had 87 receiving yards, Michael Thomas had 66, Jalin Marshall had 55 and Nick Vannett had 23.
I think that’s what needs to happen on Saturday. Obviously, we would all love to see Marvin Harrison Jr. have a huge game — and I hope he does! However, I don’t think that’s going to be enough to win. I also think the Bulldogs’ defense is going to be all over him, so he is going to need some help.
Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Cade Stover all need to step up. They are all valuable weapons and threats, and if everyone on offense can get going, Georgia is going to have a very difficult time keeping the Buckeyes contained, regardless of how good their defense is.
Defense needs to produce AT LEAST one turnover
Wow, looking back at the Sugar Bowl, I forgot the defense forced Alabama quarterback Blake Sims to throw THREE interceptions! One of them was even a pick-six by Steve Miller. The defense played a huge role in keeping the Buckeyes in this game, and that may be the key to beating Georgia on Saturday.
Clearly, whenever someone on defense has a big game, it helps out the Buckeyes in a major way. Remember the J.T. Tuimoloau game against Penn State? At least one turnover would be huge for Ohio State. It would knock down Stetson Bennett and give the Bucks a big confidence boost and momentum swing.
These three factors are just a few of the keys Ohio State needs to win Saturday. It’s going to be a battle, but the Buckeyes can get it done if they play physical on both sides of the ball.