On Jan. 1, the Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in Atlanta, Georgia, for the 2021 Peach Bowl. Georgia comes into this meeting as a seven-point favorite, according to ESPN.
2021 Peach Bowl Preview: #8 Georgia vs #9 Cincinnati
Strength on Strength
Cincinnati’s defense is easily the strength of its team. The Bearcats defense ranks at the top of the American Conference and eighth in the nation in points allowed. On top of that, Cincinnati ranks in the top ten in the country in yards allowed per game. The Bearcats are doing it by taking the ball away frequently. Cincinnati is twelfth in the nation in takeaways per game and third in interceptions per game.
For Georgia, it would have been widely believed that the defense would be the strength coming into the season. Even after a few weeks, the defense seemed unstoppable. However, now that quarterback JT Daniels has taken over the offense, Georgia is turning it up a notch on that side of the ball. In three appearances, Daniels put up nine touchdowns to just one interception. On top of that, the running game is really getting going. Unfortunately, Georgia will be without running back James Cook, who flew back to his Florida home following the passing of his father.
“Weakness” on “Weakness”
It is tough to say that these two teams have a “weak” side of the ball. Cincinnati’s offense is ranked 15th in the nation in points scored per game. Desmond Ridder has been a star for the Bearcats. Through the air, Ridder has picked up 17 touchdowns and thrown six interceptions. On the ground, he is averaging just over seven yards per carry and has 12 touchdowns. On top of Ridder’s 12, Gerrid Doaks and Jerome Ford each have seven rushing touchdowns.
For the Bulldogs, the defense has seen some shaky moments but has also seen moments of brilliance. Despite giving up a ton of points against both Florida and Alabama, Georgia still ranks in the top 20 in points allowed per game, giving up less than 20 on average. The Bulldogs also rank #1 in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up just 69.3 yards. That is huge for facing a Cincinnati team that is run-heavy.
What is at Stake
Cincinnati has the most to prove in this game. The Bearcats are on the cusp of completing the first-ever undefeated season in school history. The closest Cincinnati has ever been was in 2009 when Brian Kelly led the team to a 12-1 record with the lone loss coming to a Tim Tebow led Florida team in the Sugar Bowl. The Bearcats will be looking for their third straight win in a bowl game, as well.
On the other side of things, Georgia is looking for their 10th straight 8+ win season. It would also be its 24th season with at least eight wins within the past 25 seasons. Coach Kirby Smart is looking to win his fourth bowl game as head coach. After two rough losses to Florida and Alabama in the SEC this season, Georgia seemingly has much less to play for. However, the Bulldogs also have much more to lose in this matchup.
The 2021 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl will take place at noon ET on ESPN.