We are just a couple of weeks away from Ohio State traveling to Atlanta to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and we’re going to have plenty leading up to the game. As we have all season though, we like to throw out some hot-button topics to our writers as a roundtable discussion we like to call our “Buckeye Battle Cry.”
With several varied opinions, it’s not often that everyone agrees — and in fact — there’s often mud flying as the debate heats up from writer to writer. Every once in a while though, everyone agrees and sings kumbaya and walks away with a tear in the corner of their eyes.
This week, we’re on brand to talk about the upcoming matchup with Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Ohio State will be going against the No. 1 team in the country and No. 1 overall seed, so the Buckeyes will be a rare underdog in this one.
The topic for this installment of our BBC then is simple: “What does Ohio State have to do at an elite level to pull off the victory down in Georgia and advance to the national championship game?”
Mark Russell gets the conversation going for us.
Mark Russell, Featured Writer
I think any football coach in America will tell you that games are won and lost in the trenches. The matchup against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will be no different. Specifically, the battle that will pit the Ohio State offensive line against the Dawg’s impressive D-line.
Kirby Smart’s group only gives up 77 yards per game on the ground so we know rushing yards will be hard to come by. Still, Ryan Day cannot abandon the run completely, especially if Miyan Williams is back to full strength.
If the Bulldog defense has a weakness, it’s in the secondary. Georgia ranks 52nd in passing yards allowed nationally. The corners are talented but have been exposed at times this season. If the line can give C.J. Stroud time in the pocket, OSU has the athletes to win this game. But the offensive line is going to have to play a whale of a game against the best defensive front it’s seen all season long.
Josh Keatley, Featured Writer
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I agree with Mark that the lines have to be elite. But going further, if Ohio State is going to earn that win against Georgia, it needs to give C.J. Stroud time to sling it vertically. In case you haven’t noticed, he has the horses to do it. Marvin Harrison Jr. is the perfect 50/50 receiver who can also create separation. Emeka Egbuka has the speed to burn defenders deep while also killing them across the field and Cade Stover has the talent to be a seam buster. Yards are going to be extremely valuable in this contest and if C.J. Stroud can take the yards given to him on the ground that will go a long way.
Michael Chen, Featured Writer
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There were plenty of aspects of this game that went through my mind and the one that ultimately stood out the most was secondary play. This group struggled, both in coverage and tackling, and in order to beat Georgia, it has to be better. The Bulldogs are a juiced-up version of our rivals, a better tight end, a much deeper stable of backs, and a veteran leader behind center.
Tight end Brock Bowers is a monster — he does it all. The three-headed running back rotation of Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards, and Kendall Milton (a former OSU target) all can hit a home run at any time, each averaging over 5 yards per carry. Georgia is going to score, but if the Buckeyes can keep the skill guys in front of them and not allow the Bulldogs to get behind them, they have a great chance of pulling off an upset.
Phil Harrison, Featured Writer/Publisher
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All bring up great points and all are very important in this game. This game will be won on the line of scrimmage, but more than anything, Ohio State has to be light years better than what we saw in the Michigan game when it comes to limiting the big plays. Despite what we saw against the Wolverines, OSU is what it is on defense right now and you can expect Jim Knowles to scheme against stopping the run game again. That means the secondary has to show up and not allow wide-open receivers to get behind the defense.
And to add to that, the early stops in the running game have to continue through the entire contest. Fits weren’t right late in the game against Michigan and it resulted in what was a very good performance stopping the ground game to turn into a very bad one with huge touchdown runs to put the game away. I would almost bet that whichever team wins the rushing battle in this one is going to prevail.