No. 9 Georgia defeated No. 8 Cincinnati 24-21 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl after a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
Big fourth quarter
Smart noted prior to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl that Desmond Ridder’s experience would allow him to avoid mistakes. That was until the fourth quarter when a forced fumble flipped the script for Georgia. A much-needed touchdown run by Zamir White followed.
Georgia’s defense rose to the occasion throughout the fourth quarter to stall Cincinnati’s attack. The Bearcats didn't score after Jerome Ford scored a 79-yard touchdown less than one minute into the second half. Azeez Ojulari had his second sack of the afternoon that ended another Cincinnati drive and sparked a resurgence for Georgia.
The Bulldogs were given one last chance to move down the field with less than a minute and a half to go in the game. Daniels led Georgia down the field and set up kicker Jack Podlensy for a 53-yard field goal attempt with three seconds left. He hit it to give Georgia it’s second-straight bowl win.
The Bearcats were given one last chance backed up against their own end zone, but Ojulari notched his third sack as time ran out. The safety was the icing on the cake for Georgia.
Head coach Kirby Smart’s concerns came to fruition as Ridder’s ability to scramble and extend plays caused Georgia some problems throughout the game.
Ridder entered the matchup with a 66.39% completion rate for 2,090 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Ridder’s also Cincinnati’s second-leading rusher with 609 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Ridder went 15 for 22 for 170 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. He finished 24 of 37 for 206 yards and no touchdowns in the second half. The lackluster second half from Ridder came from Georgia’s ability to get pressure. The Bulldogs amassed eight sacks on the day and forced Ridder to throw the ball away at times as well.
Making it difficult
Georgia made three trips inside Cincinnati’s 25-yard line that ended in zero points. The Bulldogs' struggles in the red zone deterred their ability to capitalize after successful deep balls and explosive plays moved the offense down the field.
On one instance, Daniels threw an interception shortly after connecting deep to George Pickens for a 51-yard gain in the first quarter.
Georgia also faced a promising drive collapse quickly after the second half’s start when Daniels fumbled and allowed the Bearcats to take over on their own 23-yard line.
As Georgia trailed by 11 at the end of the third quarter, Daniels' pass was incomplete to Kearis Jackson on fourth and one on Cincinnati’s 25-yard line. Another drive for a crucial scoring opportunity was halted after poor execution.
With shortcomings on offense in the red zone and on third down, Georgia played catch up for the whole second half. In many instances, it seemed that one step forward would lead to two steps back. At least until the fateful final two minutes.