The ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs and the eighth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats didn’t disappoint in this year’s Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Bulldogs pulled out a narrow 24-21 victory over the Bearcats to give them their first loss of the season.
Coming into the game, the keys to victory for both teams was their defenses. The Bearcats’ defense answered the call in the first half. They held the Bulldogs to just ten points, seven first downs, and 0 for 4 on third downs.
The Bulldogs did find success through the air in the first half. J.T Daniels threw for 224 passing yards and a touchdown in the first half and finished the game with 392 total passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. George Pickens, a sophomore receiver, shined in another bowl game. Pickens had three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Pickens finished the game with seven catches, 135 receiving yards, and a touchdown.
Georgia’s front seven provided pressure all game and kept Cincinnati’s quarterback Desmond Ridder contained. The Bulldogs pass rush sacked Ridder eight times and held him to 15 carries for a negative seventeen yards rushing. Ridder finished the game with 206 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.
In the second half, the Bulldogs erased an eleven-point deficit. Georgia’s kicker, Jack Podlesny, nailed a 53-yard field goal to take the lead with :02 seconds left in the game. The field goal was a Peach Bowl record and Podlesny’s first game-winning or go-ahead field goal late in a game. Azeez Ojulari, redshirt sophomore outside linebacker, ended the game with a sack for a safety to cap off the second-half comeback.
The Bulldogs tied a school record with eight sacks for a single game, and Ojulari had a career-high single-game record of three sacks. Ironically, the Bulldogs start and finish the season with a safety for its first and final points of 2020.
The Bearcats finished 9-1 and have a 33-13 record under head coach Luke Fickell. Since Fickell arrived in 2016, the Bearcats have had two 11-win seasons and now a 2-1 bowl record. They have also bought in the best-recruiting classes the last two seasons out of the group of five schools. The Bearcats have a bright future and will be nipping at the power five schools’ heels to eventually get into the College Football Playoffs.
The Bulldogs say goodbye to the most winningest senior class in school history. The 2020 senior class leave the hedges with a 45-9 record, three SEC East titles, one SEC Championship, a Rose Bowl win, a Sugar Bowl win, a National Championship appearance, and now a Peach Bowl win.
The future is bright in Athens, but the question remains, can the Bulldogs get over the hump and bring a long-awaited championship between the hedges? That is still to be determined in 2021.