We made it, y’all. With the completion of conference championship games and a few remaining regular season contests, this weekend marked the end of college football’s regular season. The last game ended sometime early Sunday morning, and it did so in the most college football way possible.
The final play of the 2020 “regular” season: pic.twitter.com/ac7g9nkxJ1— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) December 20, 2020
A spectacular catch and toe-tap over two defenders for a score that has nothing to do with the result of the game but happened to make you a winner if your ticket happened to say Oregon St +16.5? That’s what you signed up for when you decided you preferred this delightfully random version of the game over the ShieldBall that happens on Sunday.
Your Georgia Bulldogs did not see action this weekend, losing the opportunity to play a tenth regular season game when the Vanderbilt Commodedoors decided to pack it in for the season. While there is no way to know for sure, not having a game this weekend to keep the Dawgs on the forefront of the CFP committee’s minds might have cost them a spot or two in the final CFP standings. Georgia finished 9th, one spot behind #8 Cincinnati and two spots behind #7 Florida. A 63-6 win over Vandy might not have changed it, but if it had landed UGA ahead of Florida the Bulldogs might have landed a different bowl spot.
I don’t know about y’all, but I would have loved to see the Dawgs take on UNC in the Orange Bowl or meet Oklahoma in a rematch of 2017’s classic Rose Bowl in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Either of those matchups would have presented great storylines and an excellent measuring stick. Plus, losing to either of those schools wouldn’t be a huge blow.
Instead, Georgia has to face Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Not only are they responsible for Skyline Chili and hiring Tommy Tuberville, but the Bearcats are no slouches. In fact, advanced statistics like them far more than the Notre Dame team that will be sacrificed at the altar of Lord Saban in the CFP semifinals.
Cincy is well-loved by the advanced statistics. Don’t overlook the Bearcats https://t.co/LgByyn7vTl— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) December 20, 2020
As you can see, the Cincy defense has the best EPA (a measure of predicted points allowed/gained) in the country. They also lead the country in yards per play allowed at 4.3. This will be an interesting test for a Georgia offense that is averaging 41 points a game while putting up more than 500 yards a contest since JT Daniels took over the offense.
Another angle to this matchup that I hadn’t realized until seeing an article from the AJC, a win over UGA in the Peach Bowl could lead to a National Title claim for Cincinnati similar to that of UCF in 2017. The Knights are forever in the NCAA record book as co-national champions because something called the Coley Matrix ranked them #1 after the season. Leave it to a Coley to screw something up, amirite?
I say all that to say this, the Bearcats are going to be fired up. It’s not really the type of game where you would want to be without some starters and other significant contributors. Unfortunately, Georgia will be.
So far Tre McKitty, DJ Daniel & Monty Rice have opted out of the game. Jermaine Johnson may or may not be transferring, but it’s highly unlikely we see him play in this game. As of now, Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb, Eric Stokes and Ben Cleveland are also expected to not play.
You can expect the Georgia secondary to be thin, and while that certainly isn’t good, this will be a chance for some young guys to take an early step towards claiming playing time next season. Jalen Branch, Amber Speed and Jalen Kimber will have to step up big. It’s also hard not to think about what could be if Kelee Ringo wasn’t still rehabbing from shoulder surgery. It sure would be fun to get a look at the 5-Star true freshman on a stage like the one the Dawgs will have on New Year’s Day.
There is some good news though. While Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder is certainly a great player, a lot of his game revolves around the use of his legs. He has a big arm but he also has a bit of a hitch in his delivery, and his deep ball accuracy isn’t fantastic. The Bearcats probably won’t be able to get deep on the Dawgs consistently even without a lot of the guys who are regularly in the rotation.
Also, Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan said this week that he would be happy to help Georgia honor their Seniors before the game. There’s no word on how that might look yet, but this class of Bulldogs deserve a lot of love from the faithful. Here’s hoping UGA can put together something cool and memorable for the outgoing players, but it is a shame that the guys who are opting out will never have gotten that opportunity.
Oh, and one last piece of good news... This game will be occurring in 2021. Okay, that’s actually fantastic news. We have almost made it to the end of this hell scape of a year, and we will soon be able to turn a new page.
Before we go, I wanted to share something before we hit Christmas later this week...
Throughout the downright dark times of 2020, this site has provided me a ton of laughs, distraction and camaraderie. For that, I want to thank you all. I have spent time perusing or participating in just about every UGA fan community out there, and this one is without a doubt the best. Whether we are part of your daily ritual or a place you happen upon from time to time, all of you who haunt this place make my world a little bit better.
While the rest of the gang will be along this week to keep you updated on all the happenings in the dawgosphere, this is my last post before Christmas. I hope you all have a great holiday filled with laughter, bourbon and people that you love. Merry Christmas, y’all.
Until later... Go Dawgs!