No. 9 Georgia and No. 8 Cincinnati will kick off the festivities on New Year’s Day in Atlanta in one of the most intriguing bowl matchups of the season. The Bulldogs have been riding high since inserting JT Daniels under center, which transformed the Bulldogs into one of the most complete teams in the country. They’re riding a three-game winning streak that has coincided with their three best offensive games in terms of yards per play.
The undefeated Bearcats missed out on the College Football Playoff but have a chance to make a big statement against one of the top teams in the SEC. Coach Luke Fickell has produced a balanced team that is stifling on defense and wildly efficient on offense. As a result, the Bearcats have rarely felt threatened this year.
What will happen in Friday afternoon in Atlanta? Let’s break down the matchup and make some picks.
Georgia: The question of motivation always faces Power Five teams in New Year’s Six bowl games vs. Group of Five teams. Linebacker Monty Rice, cornerback Eric Stokes, tight end Tre’ McKitty and offensive guard Ben Cleveland are a few of the stars expected to sit this one out. But defensive back Richard LeCounte is fighting hard to return from his motorcycle accident and the offense will certainly want to set the tone for what should be a full season with Daniels at the helm in 2021. It’ll be interesting to see how coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken utilize the backfield. Zamir White, James Cook, Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton are all slated to return next season, comprising the foundation of a championship-level offense. The tone can be set on Friday.
Cincinnati: Quarterback Desmond Ritter has been one of the sport’s quiet superstars in 2020. He has put up 232.2 passing yards per game and 67.67 rushing yards, and has finally developed into the game-breaker that he showed flashes of becoming prior to the season. He’ll put pressure a Georgia defense that will be short-handed due to injuries and opt-outs. It’ll be interesting to see how Fickell handles this situation. It’s the biggest game of his Cincinnati coaching career, and a win can not only elevate the status of the program to a level that we haven’t seen at the Group of Five level since Boise State’s run, but also set him up to be the hottest coaching candidate in the country next offseason.
Game: Peach Bowl
Date: Friday, Jan. 1 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Atlanta, Georgia
TV: ESPN| Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Peach Bowl Bowl prediction, picks
This one will be a barn-burner. Daniels will have his hands full against the stout Bearcats defense, but will find enough juice to get the job done late. With that said, Ridder will make the Bulldogs’ heads spin enough to give his team the ball late with a chance to spring the upset. They won’t be able to finish it off, but it’ll be within a touchdown. Pick: Cincinnati (+7) | Georgia 31, Cincinnati 27
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