That Cincinnati Bearcats has one of the best resumes from any group of 5 schools in BCS / College Football Playoff history and they were still only No. 8 in this season’s final rankings. In Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl mod Georgia (dinner ET on January 1 on ESPN and the ESPN app), they will further prove their worth against a Power 5 team that becomes a favorite in 2021.
Both Georgia and Cincinnati have been known for their defensive prowess this season (No. 1 and No. 2 in SP +, respectively). However, both teams come into this game looking more complete than they have at any point in the season. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Knight has been red-hot since an October 24 blowout win over SMU as one of the top double-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Georgia finally has its quarterback in JT Daniels. In three starts, he has thrown in 839 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. He has left Georgia fans wondering what this season could have been like if he had been healthy all year, but also excited about what was to come, starting with the Peach Bowl.
This is perhaps the most interesting of all New Year’s Six Bowl games. Georgia could have some opt-outs, but this will be a game worth no matter the time.
Key player for Cincinnati: Knight. You could argue that the quarterback is always a key player for any team, but Knight’s influence will be greater in this game than any other Cincinnati has played this season. Georgia’s defense will likely be the best Knight has seen up to this point in his college career. When Knight is on, Cincinnati is hard to beat (impossible if you look at just this season). But if he’s not up against Georgia, especially the way the Bulldogs’ offense has performed in the last five weeks, it might not go well for the Bearcats.
Key player for Georgia: LB Adam Anderson. If there is one player that Knight could become familiar with during the game, it is Anderson. Junior from Rome, Georgia, is one of the Bulldogs’ better players to get to the quarterback. With the second team All-SEC linebacker Azeez Ojulari out, Anderson will get many more snaps in one of Georgia’s biggest challenges of the year.
Matchup to see: Georgia’s offense against Cincinnati’s defense, though the idea here is not as broad as it seems. Georgia’s offense has always been the missing piece for it this season, though the defense proved to be one of the more dominant units in college football. But since Daniels has taken over as quarterback, the Bulldogs seem to finally have rhythm and consistency and will face their first real test since Daniels took over. If Todd Monken’s offense is able to move the ball against the Bearcats, Georgia will be one of the pre-season favorites moving into 2021.
X-factor: We do not know who chooses Georgia yet, which could end up being a factor if it means the Bulldogs miss out on a certain consistency in attitude groups. At least we know that their pass rush can be affected by the loss of Ojulari. On the flip side, there is talent behind the talent in Athens, and this will be a real competition and challenge for Cincinnati, no matter how it is shaped. What one has to take care of here is just how many.
Motivation factor: The disrespect of Cincinnati. This will be a gigantic tale when this game starts, but there is legitimacy to this. Cincinnati undoubtedly had the best case in any group of 5-school since the College Football Playoff started getting into the dance, and yet it just finished No. 8 in the final rankings. The Bearcats have an opportunity ahead of them against an elite Power 5 team in Georgia to show that they were one of the top four teams in the country this season.