Game 13 Recap: Ohio State 41 – Georgia 42
Going into the game, the Ohio State Buckeyes were not given much of a chance to upset the defending National Champions based on how they finished against Michigan, and the lack of complete games played by a team with a lot of talent. The Buckeyes though played this game like there was nothing to lose, and they showed that right from the start. They took their opening drive and was forced to punt, but thankfully got the ball back after Georgia missed their first field goal of the night. The Buckeyes then took 4 plays to drive 71 yards and scored with a touchdown pass from CJ Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr. The Bulldogs responded back with a score of their own with a pass from Stetson Bennett to Kenny McIntosh.
It felt like an even game at that point, but the Buckeyes bowl prep showed as they scored an a long 11 play drive to take the lead in the second quarter with a strong run by Miyan Williams. Then, Stetson Bennett threw an interception which was picked off by Steele Chamber, and the Buckeyes only needed 3 plays with the short field to give Harrison his second touchdown of the game and 21- 7 lead. Not to be outdone, Georgia drove down quick and cut the lead to make it 21-14 with a Kendall Milton touchdown run.
After a three and out, Georgia got the ball back, and this time needed 3 plays all on the ground to tie the game back 21 all with 6:07 left to play in the half. The Buckeyes stalled out once more, and then Georgia took their first lead of the night with a field goal to make it 24-21. That lead was short lived though as Ohio State scored in 55 seconds in 4 plays with a touchdown pass from CJ Stroud to Xavier Johnson to make it 28-24 and the Buckeyes held that lead going into halftime.
The second half started with Georgia getting the ball back, but were held to a three and out, and the Buckeyes capitalized on their next series chewing some clock, and CJ Stroud threw his 4th touchdown pass of the night with a connected to Emeka Egbuka. Each team them buckled down, and couldn’t get much going, as Georgia missed their second field goal, but the Buckeyes extended their lead with a field goal to make it 38-24 after a controversial targeting call against Georgia that was reversed, and it took Marvin Harrison Jr out of the game due to concussion protocol.
With a send of urgency now with 15 minutes left to go in the game. Georgia drove down the field, and scored 18 points on their next 3 drives, which included a field goal and two touchdowns with a 2 point conversion made, and the Buckeyes had a chance to win the game with 54 seconds to go. They drove it down to the Georgia 31 yard line, and after getting bumped back a bit on their next three plays, Noah Ruggles lined up for a 50 yard field goal attempt which lined up with the New Years Day clock countdown and missed it wide left as the seconds turned over into 2023.
CJ Stroud played what is likely his final game as a Buckeye and it was probably his best game in the Scarlet and Gray. He passed for 348 yards with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, while making plays with his feet for 66 yards (net 34 yards when you factor the sacks) on 12 carries, his longest on most critical coming in the last minute of the game with a 27 yard scramble to get them into field goal range.
Dallan Hayden led the rushing attack for Ohio State with 9 carries for 43 yards, but was not used as much when the Buckeyes were trying to get back into rythm after the last touchdown from Georgia. Xavier Johnson lined up in the running back position often as well, and got 6 carries for 28 yards. Miyan Williams must have been hurt still as he only had 3 carries for the game for 8 yards, and the 1 rushing touchdown.
The Buckeyes had 2 receivers who broke 100 yards with Emeka Egbuka (8 catches for 112 yards and touchdown) and Marvin Harrison Jr (who only played 3 quarters but had 5 catches for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, all in the first half.) Julian Fleming made some great plays also, catching 5 passes for 51 yards, and Xavier Johnson had 3 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Cade Stover made 1 catch, but was hurt in the 1st half, and it was reported that he went to a local hospital due to spasms in his back.
The Buckeyes led this game for 58 minutes, but it was the last minute that was critical, but you cant be ashamed of the performance Ohio State made in this one, with the exception of some busted plays on the defensive side of the ball, but give credit to Georgia in a great hard fought game from both teams. It is not the outcome Ohio State wanted, and it will be an interesting offseason with some question marks as a few spots, but I think this game gave Ryan Day a little more credit heading into next season in what will be the final year of the 4 team playoff.
The targeting call that was reversed in the third quarter. when Marvin Harrison Jr attempted to catch a ball thrown in the back of the endzone, and it knocked him out of the game when Georgia defensive back lead with his shoulder and connected with Harrison’s helmet. With the targeting call reversed and the penalty not enforced, the Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal instead of a 1st and goal, and only scored 1 more field goal the rest of the game. Georgia was able to get their offense goin again, and scored 18 points, which was enough to take a 1 point lead that held once Noah Ruggles 50 yard field goal attempt missed wide left.
Stars of the Game
Stetson Bennett and CJ Stroud. Give Credit to Stetson Bennett who won the game in the 4th quarter, and passed for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter, along with a 2 point conversion pass that cut the Buckeye lead to 3 points. CJ Stroud though played arguably his best game as a Buckeye with making plays with his arm and legs in what was a gutsy performance that unfortunately came up short in the end. The two quarterbacks showed why they were Heisman finalists on the field, and were two of the best players in the game.
The Buckeyes fell short in the end against a good Georgia team, and couldn’t overcome their injuries to Marvin Harrison Jr, Miyan Williams, Cade Stover, and Gee Scott, while Georgia is looking to be the first team since Alabama to win consecutive National Championships against a TCU team that jumped ahead and upset Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Ryan Day moves to 1-3 all time in the Playoffs, with 2 of the losses coming after leading by 14 points or more (2022 Georgia, and 2019 Clemson)
Ohio State (11-2) will be sitting at home and move to winter conditioning, while awaiting some key decisions by players who might opt out, transfer, or return back for another season.
Georgia (14-0) will play TCU (13-1) for the National Championship on Monday, January 9 at 7:30pm.
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images