ATLANTA — Ohio State’s bid for redemption came up one point short in the Peach Bowl.
Georgia scored a game-winning touchdown with 54 seconds left to erase a 14-point deficit, a 42-41 margin that held up when Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal with three seconds left.
That sent the Buckeyes home and earned the Bulldogs a chance to defend their national championship in the CFP national championship game against TCU in Los Angeles on Jan. 9.
“I thought our team came out and swung and played hard in this game, came up short,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “It came down to one play. It wasn’t just the last play. There were a lot of plays in the game that you wish you had back as coaches and players. That’s what happens in a game like this.
“But I told the guys I’m proud of the way they played. I’m proud of the way they competed. For the older guys, the seniors, proud of what they’ve done for the program. For the younger guys, the guys that are coming back, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and see what it takes to win in the CFP.”
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. The first half was a barn-burner.
Neither defense covered itself in glory in the first 30 minutes as the team combined for 561 yards and 52 points.
Stroud completed 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards in the first half while Harrison caught five passes for 106.
Bennett completed 12 of 19 passes for 191 yards, and Kenny McIntosh ran for 56 while Daijun Edwards added 48 more on the ground.
2. Ohio State separated in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes forced a three-and-out defensively to start the second half then drove 70 yards for a touchdown. Stroud’s 10-yard pass to Emeka Egbuka extended the lead to 11 points.
They pushed it to 14 on a 25-yard field goal by Ruggles in the final minute of the quarter.
3. Georgia dominated the fourth.
The Bulldogs outscored the Buckeyes 18-3 in the final stanza, and they finished with almost double their total yards (187-97).
4. The Ohio State offense answered the bell.
After coming up short in most of Ohio State’s losses over the last eight seasons, the Ohio State offense was fantastic on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes scored on eight of their 14 drives and finished with 467 total yards in 66 plays, an average of 7.1 per attempt.
Stroud finished 23 for 34 for 348 yards passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also scrambled more than usual and ended up with 71 yards on the ground before accounting for sacks (minus-37).
Egbuka had 112 yards on eight catches while Marvin Harrison Jr. had 106 yards on five catches before going out with a head injury late in the third quarter.
“At the end of the day, we had the mindset of we were going to let everything hang,” Stroud said. “We were going to go out and fight as hard as we can and swing as hard as we can. I felt we did that.”
5. Big plays were a killer again for the defense.
After five home run touchdowns sunk Ohio State against Michigan, the explosive play was a thorn in the side of the Buckeyes again Saturday night.
Georgia totaled 17 big plays, which are counted as pass plays of more than 15 yards and runs of more than 10.
The most important was probably a 76-yard touchdown from Bennett to Arian Smith that cut Ohio State’s lead to three with more than eight minutes still left to play.
“It was something that we spent a lot of time talking about is avoiding the big play,” Day said. “I think the difference was in this game, it didn’t demoralize us. We kept swinging and fighting, and we just kept going at it.
“But call it for what it is. If we’re going to win these games, we can’t give up those big explosive plays. They’re hard to come back from, but there was still a lot of positive things out there.”
Stetson Bennett IV stole this honor from Stroud with the late game-winning drive. Georgia’s quarterback ended up with 398 yards and three touchdowns, though he did throw an interception while Stroud did not.
Stat of the game
For the second straight game, Ohio State allowed a school-record in yards per play. Georgia’s 8.88 edged Michigan’s 8.83
About the Author