Georgia and Ohio State square off New Year’s Eve in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal. It will be just the second-ever meeting between these two storied programs. The Bulldogs beat the Buckeyes 21-14 on New Year’s Day 1993 in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Both Georgia and Ohio State have held the No. 1 ranking at times this year. These are two exceptionally talented teams, led by veteran quarterbacks C.J. Stroud at Ohio State and Stetson Bennett at Georgia, both Heisman Trophy finalists. There are a plethora of All-American, All-Conference and future National Football League draft choices who will suit up on New Year’s Eve. And you can bet, with the stakes so high for these dynamic teams and loyal and passionate fan bases, the atmosphere promises to be epic.
This is the most highly anticipated game of the season.
Since the College Football Playoff began in 2014, Ohio State has been a regular in the field, headlined by capturing that 2014 national championship with victories over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and then Oregon in the title game. This will be the Buckeyes fifth playoff appearance, behind only Alabama’s seven and Clemson’s six.
Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day, in his fourth season at the helm in Columbus, has carried on Ohio State’s tremendous success. This year’s team is 11-1, losing only to Michigan in the regular season finale. His first team in 2019 won the Big Ten title, then lost to Clemson in the semifinal. The Buckeyes of 2020 advanced to the national title game, falling to Alabama. A year ago, Ohio State went 11-2 and won the Rose Bowl. Now they are back in the CFP for the third time in Day’s tenure.
Reigning national champion Georgia is in the playoff for the third time in the last six seasons under the watch of head coach Kirby Smart. Georgia rolls into the battle with the Buckeyes with a 13-0 record, defeating LSU in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on December 3rd. The Bulldogs, who have won 31 of the last 32 games, will be making their third appearance in Mercedes Benz-Stadium this season. Smart’s Dogs opened the campaign with a 49-3 victory over Oregon in Atlanta, and then beat the Bayou Bengals 50-30 for the SEC crown.
A standout All-SEC safety, Smart has led his beloved alma mater to an unprecedented era of success. The Chick-Fil-A Peach is Georgia’s sixth straight major bowl game, and no matter what happens the rest of the way, the Bulldogs assured a sixth straight top ten national finish.
The ultimate goal is, of course, the national title. Around midnight, when the calendar turns, that dream will still be alive for one of these teams.
Big Ten champion Michigan, 13-0 on the year, takes on 12-1 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl in the other semifinal. The winners will advance to the National Championship Game on January 9 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.