Ohio State’s players and coaches have been subjected to an onslaught of negativity from their fans who are overly active on Twitter and the national media ever since Nov. 26. It is tragically comical that people have seemingly forgotten that for most of the season, people expected the Buckeyes to wind up facing Georgia, albeit in the national championship game. Ohio State was often considered to be on par with Georgia for most of the season, sometimes even superior to Georgia, until the epic face plant that took place in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State, along with Alabama and Georgia, is considered to have a talent-rich roster that is among the envy of the college football world, but so many members of the national media have decided to portray this game as a David versus Goliath contest. So be it. Ohio State is the underdog, and can come into this game playing loose and aggressively, with the mindset that they can let it all hang out against Georgia in The Peach Bowl.
Below are Three Things To Watch from Georgia when the ball kicks off on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 31...
- Ohio State’s passing game vs. Georgia’s secondary
This strategy has been well-discussed by Ohio State fans, but the Buckeyes need to be attacking the Georgia secondary early and often on offense. Mind you, I am not advocating for a bombs away approach, but more of quick slants, hitting checkdown receivers if Georgia blitzes, and above all, for C.J. Stroud to take off for productive yards on the ground on passing plays when the opportunities present themselves.
Georgia’s Jalen Carter is going to be extremely difficult for Ohio State’s interior offensive line to manage, and Stroud will need to roll out to give himself more time against the Bulldogs. If that means Stroud gains 2 or 3 yards on a scramble to put Ohio State ahead of the chains, the Buckeyes need to take it.
2. Limit Georgia’s big plays by their tight ends
Tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington are crucial to the Georgia offense as both blockers, but also receivers. I am not suggesting that Ohio State’s defense will be able to stop Bowers and/or Washington, but I am sincerely hoping that Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and the other members of the defensive coaching staff have taught their players to resist the urge to go for a highlight knockout shot.
They should be content to wrap up low on Bowers and/or Washington, hoping that a teammate(s) will be along to get them to the ground. If the Ohio State secondary can tackle immediately after a Georgia reception, that will help immensely from what the Buckeyes did in their last game.
3. Keep Stetson Bennett in the pocket
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is underrated — even as a Heisman Trophy finalist — as most people derisively think of him as a “game manager”, and not somebody capable of carrying the Georgia offense. The reality is Bennett is not only effective as a passer, but can keep drives alive with his legs. The Buckeyes were burned by Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy on Nov. 26, and will need to make sure that Bennett is not able to take off for decent runs on passing downs.
Here’s to hoping Ohio State plays confidently, aggressively, and assertively in all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams. For those of you who are going to the Peach Bowl, my sincere hope that you have a tremendous time. For those of you who may be out at a bar/restaurant, please use good judgment and do not hesitate to call an Uber, Lyft, taxi services, etc on New Year’s Eve.