Duress for Desmond – Cincinnati has a terrific quarterback. Desmond Ridder completes two-thirds of his passes, and has tossed 17 touchdowns against six interceptions. On the ground, he averages over 60 yards per game and has struck paydirt 12 times. That’s 29 touchdowns accounted for in nine games. Georgia must find a way to make him uncomfortable. He’s going to get some yardage and make some plays, but if Ridder has time and is dictating with the run game, Georgia’s defense is in trouble. The Dogs must get the push consistently – starting with big Jordan Davis – and get the Bearcats behind the chains.
Run it Strong Dawgs – The Bearcats have a tough defense, allowing 17 or fewer points in six of nine games. They’ll certainly load up the front to try and stymie a Georgia rushing attack that hit full stride last time out. The Bulldogs chalked up over 300 yards on the ground in blowout wins over South Carolina and Missouri following an eight-yard outing in the 31-24 win over Mississippi State. Behind Matt Luke’s strong offensive line, Zamir White is the headliner of a backfield that can go five deep, if Kendall Milton returns from injury. White went over 100 yards in both Columbia’s and has scored in eight of nine games.
Dial It Up Downfield – Georgia football has always been at its best when running the ball strong and throwing by design off play action. JT Daniels has given the Bulldogs a big lift at quarterback, leading Georgia over MSU, and giving the Bulldogs a dual run/pass threat against South Carolina and Missouri. The receiving trio of George Pickens, Jermaine Burton and Kearis Jackson have come up with big plays, and they’ll have to flourish at Mercedes-Benz for the Bulldogs to prevail.
Kicking Game – There is obviously not the usual extended time off between the regular season and the bowl this year, but special teams always show up big in the bowls. Who put in the work in that time off. Georgia had two Special Teams Disasters at Mizzou, but the kicking game has been very good all year, most notably with All-American candidate Jake Camarda at punter, kicker Jack Podlesny and Jackson on returns. Cincinnati’s kicking game is literally coming off its play of the year. Maybe its biggest ever. Cole Smith stroked a 34-yard field goal as the clock struck 0:00 to deliver the 27-24 win over Tulsa in the American Championship Game. Special teams show up big In bowls!’
Turnovers – This is always the easy category. When you get two good teams together, turnovers take on so much importance. Giving possessions away, getting extra possessions, those fumbles and picks, if there is a discrepancy of “plus-two” or greater usually makes the difference. Both sides have a lot of talent on the stop units. A roll of the dice on D could spell a game-changing turnover, or a big play TD allowed.