The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs will be gunning to become the first back-to-back national title winner in a decade when it locks horns with the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday night in the second semifinal matchup of the College Football Playoff. It will hold a distinct advantage in the Peach Bowl with the game taking place in their own backyard. Both teams will bring loads of offensive playmakers to the gridiron for this tilt, but it’s the defending champs that boast by far the better of the two defenses. That being said, the Dawgs are yet to run up against an offense quite like the Buckeyes which is also being led by a Heisman Trophy candidate. For good reason, this matchup sports the higher total of the two semifinals. Offensive fireworks will be on the menu, and I’m of the belief both sides put on a show in a back and forth affair that might not be decided until the match’s final possession.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Date and Time: Saturday, December 31, 2022 at 7:00 PM EST
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV Coverage: ESPN
BetRivers Sportsbook lined the Georgia Bulldogs as 7-point favorites with the total set at 60.5 for this tilt with the Buckeyes. The Bulldogs have been the popular side to back per current wager reports with 88 percent of the bets and 86 percent of the money riding the defending champs to advance to the next round. While some shops have dropped the number to beat under the key number, BetRivers has held firm at -7 with heavier -114 juice attached to the Buckeyes side of the impost. That lets it be known some respected betting accounts have aligned themselves with OSU plus the points. This marks the third straight CFP appearance that Ohio State has caught points from its opponent. As for Georgia, it’s the fourth straight time it was favored to advance.
Total bettors are buying into the over with reckless abandon evidenced by 70 percent of the bets and 85 percent of the money expecting points to dent the scoreboard. The high volume has forced linemakers to bump the number to beat up to 62! Ohio State was one of the best over bets in the game cashing over tickets at a 9-3 clip, while UGA saw the under go 7-5-1.
Just what will the Buckeyes have up their sleeves to get the best of one of the more dominant defenses in the land? It’ll be quite simple really. Look for C.J. Stroud to bomb away in hopes of taking advantage of the weak link of the Bulldogs stop unit that comes in the secondary. Georgia will likely get the better of RB Miyan Williams with it owners of the No. 1 ranked rush defense in the land that only serves up an average of 77.0 yards per game. It will however have its hands full trying to contend with the Buckeyes 1,000+ yard receivers in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka who will make life a living hell for the Dawgs No. 51 ranked secondary that concedes upwards of 215 yards per game.
Anchored by arguably the best offensive line in the country, the Bulldogs possess a number of road graters along the front wall that allowed for Stetson Bennett to thrive in his senior campaign. It paved the way for 5.7 yards per carry which is likely to lead to success for the unit’s stable of running backs spearheaded by none other than Kenny McIntosh who led the way with 709 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. On top of that, it only allowed seven sacks so the offense is likely to thrive with Bennett able to calmly survey the field to find playmakers like Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey should he be deemed healthy enough to go after reaggravating a knee injury in the SEC title game.
Though OSU only managed to cover one of four games away from Columbus, it still won each by over 17.0 points per game. Georgia represents a huge step up in class, but the Buckeyes laid an average of 27.8 points per game over the course of the regular season. I think Ohio State is being sold short in this matchup. I’m curious to see how Georgia reacts to partaking in a competitive matchup not playing “Between the Hedges” and welcome the belief of many that Ohio State is lucky to be here due to USC falling flat on its face in the Pac-12 title game. While OSU did receive a second chance because of it, I firmly expect Ryan Day and his staff to make the most of the charitable offering from the football gods. There hasn’t been a repeat champion in the CFP since it debuted back in 2014, and there won’t be one this season either. Ohio State wins this one outright in a game that plays to the high scorer many envision!
Bet the CFP Semifinal matchup between Ohio State and Georgia at BetRivers Sportsbook