The undefeated No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0) get their crack at a Power 5 foe when they face the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (7-2) in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. The two schools get together for the first time since 1976 and have only faced each other twice in the schools’ histories.
Georgia has won both tilts, with the first matchup happening in 1942. Kickoff is at noon ET inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia is a seven-point favorite in the New Year’s Six Bowl game, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati rolled through its regular season with an average margin of victory of just over 23 points per game. The Bearcats, who play in the American Athletic Conference, won all six of their conference games, including two over ranked foes. Cincinnati added an impressive 14-point non-conference victory over Army in Week 2.
Desmond Ridder might not be a household name, but the junior quarterback was one of the top dual-threat signal-callers this season. Ridder threw for 2,090 yards and rushed for an additional 609 yards, with 29 total touchdowns accounted for. His 12 rushing touchdowns were second in the NCAA for quarterbacks.
Starting running back Gerrid Doaks led the way for the Bearcats with 673 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. Jerome Ford chipped in seven rushing touchdowns and 386 yards as the Bearcats backup running back and third-leading rusher.
In the passing game, Ridder’s favorite targets were tight end Josh Whyle (25 receptions, 318 yards, five touchdowns) and wide receiver Michael Young Jr. (25 receptions, 273 yards, three touchdowns), who tied for most receptions on the team. Whyle’s five touchdown receptions topped the team total.
What to Know – Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia suffered a pair of losses to top 10 opponents in Southeastern Conference action due to poor quarterback play. Once the Bulldogs made the switch to JT Daniels under center, the Georgia offense looked more polished over the final three games.
Daniels, a transfer from USC, missed time early on in the season due to an injury suffered last season. Once Daniels was cleared to play, the sophomore threw for 839 yards with nine touchdowns and just one interception in three starts.
Zamir White emerged from the Bulldogs’ backfield as the lead back in Georgia’s offense. White carried the ball 133 times for 740 yards and 10 touchdowns over his sophomore campaign behind a talented offensive line.
James Cook (45 carries, 303 yards, three touchdowns) and Kenny McIntosh (42 carries, 234 yards, one touchdown) are change-of-pace options in the backfield for the Bulldogs.
A trio of underclassmen combined to catch 58 percent of the passes thrown by Georgia quarterbacks. Kearis Jackson (33 catches, 467 yards, three touchdowns), Jermaine Burton (26 catches, 398 yards), and George Pickens (29 catches, 378 yards, five touchdowns) are all young, elite wideouts for Daniels to chose from.
The Pick Is In
This is a classic bowl game where the talent level versus the motivational level will have a huge impact on the outcome. Many teams are disinterested in these games if they aren’t playing in the College Football Playoff, and historically, Georgia is one of those teams.
Talent-wise, the Bulldogs have an advantage with a roster filled with blue-chip players. This is a big game for the Bearcats, who want to make a statement that they were left out as one of the four selections in the CFP.
This is a tough one to pick, but our money sides with the Bearcats.
The Pick: Cincinnati +7