A Great Second Act
For years people complained the College Football Playoff semi-finals were never good. However, 2022 was not one of those years. Let’s be honest Georgia and Ohio State had a very tough task following an epic first semi-final. However, it more than lived up to the hype with another incredible game. Following a back-and-forth second half the Bulldogs pulled out a thriller. Let’s break it down as Georgia wins the Peach Bowl 42-41.
Very Hot Start
Ohio State punted on their first possession while the Bulldogs got a rare miss from Jack Podlesny on a 47-yard field goal. Once the feeling out was done business really started picking up. Going 71 yards in four plays the Buckeyes took the early lead on a 31-yard pass from C.J. Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr.
Stetson Bennett and the defending champions came right back knotting it up on a 25-yard pass to Kenny McIntosh. OSU took the lead on a two-yard run by Miyan Williams. On Georgia’s next possession the first mistake of the game came as Steele Bennett picked off Bennett. Three plays later Stroud’s second TD pass to Harrison made it 21-7.
Here Come The Champs
Faced with their biggest deficit of the season Georgia merely said “MEH” and got to work running off 17 unanswered points. An 11-yard run by Kendall Milton cut the lead to seven. Following a three and out the Bulldogs needed 1:34 to tie it up on a three-yard run by Milton. Podlesny’s 32-yard field goal gave Kirby Smart’s team their first lead. Right before the half, Stroud ran the two-minute offense to perfection going 75 yards in 55 seconds. The last 37 came on a pass to Xavier Johnson and it was 28-24 at the half. It was the first time in playoff history both teams scored more than 24 points in the first half.
Both quarterbacks, who finished in the final four of the Heisman voting, combined for 429 yards passing and four touchdowns. Three for Stroud and one for Bennett who had another score rushing. That set the stage for a wild second half.
Back And Forth We Go
The second half started with a rarity, a Bulldog three and out. Stroud picked up right when he left off hitting Emeka Egbuka on a 10-yard score and the lead was 11. If you read our game preview we talked about how Georgia had to get pressure on the OSU signal caller and make him uncomfortable. However for the most part that really didn’t happen as Stroud seemingly had all day and made the Bulldogs pay. It was obvious they watched LSU torch the Georgia defense for 502 yards passing and took advantage.
Both teams exchanged field goals and the lead stood at 11. Georgia had the ball at the seven-yard line but went backward and had to settle for three. After an OSU punt, it took Bennett one play to score as he hit Arian Smith on a 76-yard bomb after the defender fell down. A two-point conversion made it 38-35.
A Fantastic Finish
Georgia finally got to Stroud when it counted late in the fourth quarter. On a second and five at the Bulldog 25-yard line, Jamon Dumas-Johnson got to the quarterback. As a result, the Buckeyes had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles. That set the stage for a legendary drive.
A short kickoff gave Georgia the ball at their own 28. Bennett led the Bulldogs 72 yards in five plays in only 1:49. The last 10 came on a pass from Bennett to Adonai Mitchell and with the extra point Georgia took the lead. But did they leave too much time on the clock?
Stetson Bennett's 190 pass yards are the most by any player in the 4th quarter of a playoff game. pic.twitter.com/01MIfHYgfc
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2023
With :54 seconds on the clock, Stroud marched the Buckeyes down the field giving them a chance to win. However, the defense came up big sacking him and forcing a long field goal. This time Ruggles’ kick was way left and Georgia wins the Peach Bowl 42-41.
With the win, Georgia moves to 14-0 on the season. They of course move on to face TCU in the National Championship game at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles next Monday night. UGA is looking to be the first repeat champion in the playoff era and the first since Alabama went back-to-back in 2011-12. They move to 3-0 in 2022 in “neutral” games played at Mercedes Benz Stadium in nearby Atlanta.
The loss ends Ryan Day’s club’s season at 11-2. They lost their final two after starting 11-0. OSU was looking to follow their 2014 script where they entered the playoff as the four seed then beat Alabama in the semi-final and then Oregon to win it all.
Bennett finished up with 388 yards and four total touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground. He orchestrated his third fourth-quarter comeback win. The other two were last year’s title game and earlier this year against Missouri.
If this is Stroud’s last game in Columbus he went out in a big way. He hit on 23 of 34 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns to go along with another 34 yards on the ground. Fans of Ohio State will be saying “what if” after Harrison left the game late in the third quarter after a huge hit originally ruled targeting but then overruled. He finished with five catches for 106 yards and two scores. However, none of those came in the second half.
Again Georgia wins the Peach Bowl 42-41 in a thriller and will go for back-to-back titles. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football.