Usually it is the SEC that gets two teams into the College Football Playoff field. This year, it is the Big Ten.
The inclusion of Ohio State was not a universally beloved one. The Buckeyes only lost once, but it was a 45-23 loss at home to Michigan. If the chatter from the talking heads is to be believed, Ohio State never had a chance in the game. The reality is that the Buckeyes led by three points at halftime before it all unraveled as their defense allowed four touchdowns in the first six drives of the second half.
Getting into the field is only part of the equation. Now the Buckeyes need to take on defending national champion Georgia in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
Georgia (-135) is the heavy favorite in the odds to win the national title. Ohio State is priced at +375 according to the college football playoff odds.
Here is the first breakdown of the national semifinal. More predictions, analysis and previews will be coming as Georgia attempts to become the first back-to-back champion during the College Football Playoff era.
Ohio State vs Georgia Game Information
- When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET
- Where: Peach Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
- Line: Georgia -7
- Moneyline: Ohio State +200, Georgia -240
- Total: 61½
No. 4 Seed Ohio State Buckeyes
- Record: 11-1
- Record Against the Spread: 5-6-1
- Head coach: Ryan Day, fourth season
- Head coaching record: 45-5
- Best CFP finish: 2014 national champions
Ohio State was given a reprieve when Utah blew out Southern California in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A win by USC would have kept the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff field.
The attention has been on Heisman Trophy candidate C.J. Stroud and the other skill-position players on the team. The improvement of the defense can’t be overlooked.
Ohio State has gone from allowing 402 yards in 2020 to 373 yards last season and 304 yards this season.
Stroud threw two interceptions late in the loss to Michigan that appeared to end the Buckeyes’ national title hopes. He has thrown for 3,340 yards with 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He put up those numbers even though Ohio State had two-star receivers taken with picks Nos. 10 and 11 in the 2022 NFL Draft, top returning pass catcher Jaxon Smith-Njigba was limited to five receptions in three games and leading rusher TreVeyon Henderson missed four games. Miyan Williams stepped up in Henderson’s absence before he went down with an injury.
Tommy Eichenberg leads the defense with 112 tackles, the most by an Ohio State player since Raekwon McMillan’s 119 stops in 2015. Nine of Ohio State’s last 10 games went over theLas Vegas odds total.
No. 1 Seed Georgia Bulldogs
- Record: 13-0
- Record Against the Spread: 7-6
- Head coach: Kirby Smart, seventh season
- Head coaching record: 79-15
- Best CFP finish: 2021 national champions
When five players off one of the most dominating defenses in recent college football history were taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the other national title contenders felt that the Bulldogs would not be quite as imposing as they were a season ago.
Other than a narrow escape against Missouri and a tough test against Kentucky, it was no problem for Georgia to return to the college football playoff.
More was placed on quarterback Stetson Bennett this season. His touchdown pass total has gone down, but the rest of his numbers have improved even with star receiver George Pickens now among the top rookie receivers in the NFL.
HIM 😤 https://t.co/Aa3WuZk1tL
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) December 3, 2022
The defense looked vulnerable against LSU in the SEC title game. The Tigers had a SEC Championship Game record 549 yards to overshadow the 529 yards put up by the Bulldogs.
Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton have shared the rushing load. McIntosh is also a threat in the passing game to go along with tight end Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey.
The defense took a hit with the loss of Nolan Smith. Six of the top seven tacklers are either freshmen or sophomores with Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Smael Mondon Jr. and Malaki Starks leading the way.
Georgia has covered against the college football betting lines in just three of its last six games.
Ohio State running back Henderson and receiver Smith-Njigba continue to deal with injuries so those who bet online will need to monitor their status.
Tight end Arik Gilbert and receiver Ladd McConkey are both questionable for Georgia. Linebacker Nolan Smith is out for the season,
Road to the CFP
It was a pretty methodical march for Georgia to return to the College Football Playoffs. Even a loss in the SEC title game would not have kept Georgia from being one of the four teams in contention for the national title. Georgia won three games against ranked teams by an average of 26.3 points per game and that included a season-opening 49-3 win over Oregon.
Ohio State’s season began with a win over Notre Dame and included a 13-point win at Penn State. Those were the only games against ranked teams before the nightmarish second half in the loss to Michigan.
Ohio State is second nationally in scoring offense and sixth in total offense so it is clear how the Buckeyes have gotten this far.
Next Stop: NFL
Last year, Georgia defensive players were flying off the board in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Could Ohio State offensive players dominate the proceedings in 2023? Stroud is a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick while Paris Johnson should be among the first offensive linemen selected. Smith-Njigba is another likely first-round pick.
Defensive back Kelee Ringo is the top draft prospect for Georgia.