The College Football Playoff is set as Georgia hosts Ohio State and Michigan faces off with TCU. For the first time in quite a while, there was parity in the sport, but Georgia and Ohio State are two storied programs that should make for one of the more enticing CFP matchups we’ve seen in some time. Shockingly, these two teams have only met once before, with Georgia beating Ohio State in the 1993 Citrus Bowl 21-14. As a betting man, I would wager there will be a lot more points scored this time around.
ESPN recently gave their initial preview for both College Football Playoff matchups, providing X-Factors for each side, beginning with the Bulldogs:
Georgia’s offense is effective, of course. It has a three-headed monster at running back with Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards. And quarterback Stetson Bennett is a threat whether he’s throwing from the pocket or scrambling for yards. What’s more, he has mismatches at tight end in Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington to lean on. But who’s the go-to receiver? Who’s the deep threat? Ladd McConkey is solid with 51 receptions and five touchdowns, but those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers, and he’s undersized at 6-foot. Fellow receivers Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Dillon Bell have only two touchdowns apiece.
You have to think if Georgia is going to win this one, they’re going to have to put up at least 30 points. The Bulldogs defense has been spectacular again this season, but it’s not quite as lockdown as it was a year ago. They showed against LSU that they could be thrown on, and Ohio State has a much more potent offensive attack than the Tigers from Baton Rouge.
But while Georgia may not have the recognizable names at the receiver position, this is as explosive of an offense as any in the country. Led by Heisman candidate Stetson Bennett and Mackey Award winner Brock Bowers, the Bulldogs are capable of dropping 40+ points against anybody. That’s what’s different about this Georgia team. They can attack defenses in so many ways, and as we saw in Ohio State’s game against Michigan, they are susceptible to big plays.
Here’s what ESPN had to say about the X-Factor for Ohio State:
Wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is one of the best receivers in the country. He has continuously made ridiculous catches throughout the season and makes plays most receivers can’t. The Buckeyes are dealing with injuries to the ground game and have also been without receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, so Harrison is vital to the offense on this stage. If he can provide a reliable target for Stroud and get in the end zone, Ohio State should be able to hang with any of the other semifinalists.
As far as pure wide receivers, I’m not sure there is a better one in college football than Marvin Harrison Jr. Without Jaxson Smith-Njigba, he’s going to have to make a lot of plays to keep this one close. But I would argue the X-Factor for the Buckeyes is finding a way to slow down Georgia’s offense. As good as the Bulldogs have been offensively, they’ve had some slow periods over the course of the season, and Ohio State has the athletes to muddy this game up a bit and let their explosive offense take control.
Photo: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire
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