COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It’s playoff week for the Buckeyes, with Ohio State in Atlanta to face No. 1 Georgia on New Year’s Eve in the Peach Bowl for a spot in the national championship game.
Head coach Ryan Day is previewed the semifinal and the Buckeyes’ first game against the Bulldogs in nearly 20 years. You can watch the news conference in the video player above.
It’s been one month since Ohio State last played, a 45-23 loss to No. 2 Michigan at Ohio Stadium. Despite the loss, the Buckeyes still found their way into the playoff thanks to USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game.
Day said his team translated its energy and physicality in practice immediately from Columbus to Atlanta, saying its been a focus throughout the last month. “We have great experience being in this style of game.” said Day.
An area of improvement the Buckeyes are focused on is Georgia’s run game after allowing numerous big rushes against Michigan. “We got to play with great fundamentals,” said Day. “We have taken a hard look at what happened in the last game and put a good plan together. In this environment, they got to go play fast and having a couple weeks of preparation has helped our guys as well.”
Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg commended Georgia’s running game, stating its scheme, running backs, and offensive line have made the Bulldogs very effective rushing.
The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will play in the second semifinal, expected to kick off about 8 p.m. Michigan and TCU will go first, playing in the Fiesta Bowl at 4 p.m. Saturday.
In the last 30 days, the Buckeyes learned that receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson will not play in the postseason. Multiple players also received individual honors, with quarterback C.J. Stroud going to New York as a Heisman finalist and receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. being named a unanimous all-American.
The Bulldogs (13-0) are on the hunt for back-to-back national championships, something never accomplished in the playoff era. Riding a 15-game winning streak dating to last season, coach Kirby Smart has Georgia playing remarkable football, with a top-tier defense, high-powered offense, and depth on both sides of the ball.
“They have a lot of great weapons. They play a high level of football,” said Day. “You got to be aware of more than one guy on both sides of the ball.”
Although undefeated, the Bulldogs haven’t rolled over each opponent like it did last season. With close wins over Missouri (26-22), Tennessee (27-13), and Kentucky (16-6), Georgia showed its ability to conquer adversity and grind out results in tough Southeastern Conference games.
When asked about logistics, Day said the team’s charter flight landed Sunday night in Atlanta as millions have seen travel plans postponed or cancelled due to severe winter storm across the country.
Ohio State will be vying for its second national championship game appearance in the last three seasons. Its most recent college football final came in the 2020 season, when the Buckeyes fell to Alabama 52-24 in south Florida, their last game against an SEC team.
The lone meeting between the Buckeyes and Bulldogs came in the 1993 Citrus Bowl, a 21-14 win for Georgia.