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Bulldogs clear Ohio State hurdle, Javon Bullard plays the game


ATHENS — Kirby Smart has seen this storm come to Ohio State for the past two seasons, knowing his Bulldogs would likely need to weather it at some point on their journey to the top of the college football world.

Georgia football survived Saturday night’s challenge from the Buckeyes by the slimmest of margins, a missed field goal attempt from 50 yards at the stroke of midnight to determine the outcome of a 42-41 Instant Classic.

RELATED: Game Story, Georgia Score Incredible Victory Over Buckeyes

It took every look at Smart’s defensive scheme, every page of Todd Monken’s playbook and every ounce of buy-in from a recharged team that exceeded realistic expectations.

Teams aren’t supposed to lose 15 players in the NFL Draft and repeat as national champions, but that’s what these No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are about to do.

Georgia is a prohibitive favorite to finish the job at 7:30 p.m. next Monday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., where it will face Big 12 runner-up TCU in the CFP Championship game.

RELATED: Georgia Is a Historically Big Favorite Over TCU, Title Play Throwback Has Been Spreading Since 1998

Here’s a look at the trend of individual players coming out of a historic CFP Peach Bowl semi-final, which saw the Bulldogs become the first CFP-era team to win after trailing by 14 or more points in fourth. quarter:


Javon Bullard: The sophomore safety was named the game’s defensive MVP after coming up with Georgia’s most crucial play of the night, a hard shot that separated Marvin Harrison Jr. from the ball in the end zone and left the star of the game. ‘Ohio State lay out on the grass. The Buckeyes settled for one field goal and Harrison Jr. did not return to the game, leaving Ohio State’s passing game lacking punch the rest of the night.

Kenny McIntosh: McIntosh once again rushed for over 100 total yards, leading Georgia with 5 receptions which he turned into 56 yards, including the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the night. McIntosh also led the UGA rushers with 70 yards on 5 carries, including a 52-yard burst that proved to be the second-longest offensive play of the game.

WATCH: Brock Bowers used ‘Matrix’ move to get first down, spark comeback

Ariane Smith: The lightly used and oft-injured speedster had the first multi-wrestling game of his career, including a 76-yard TD catch that saw him run wide open past a defensive back. Smith proved a major X-factor on a night the Bulldogs needed him, with tight end Darnell Washington going down with an early injury.

Christopher Smith: The Georgia All-American safety had another terrific outing, leading the team with 8 tackles while quarterbacking a defense that gave up no play for 37 yards – an impressive feat considering the gifted talent UGA against Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud.


Broderick Jones: The Georgian left tackle just doesn’t seem to be beaten at pass blocking, and he’s dramatically improved his run blocking each of the past two seasons. An up-and-coming NFL starter, Jones provides invaluable peace of mind when it comes to pass protection.

Amarius Mims: The second made the most of his first start at right tackle, ranking higher overall than every other Georgia offensive lineman. The experience Mims gained this season was crucial, with Warren McClendon missing his first start in 38 games.

RELATED: Kirby Smart’s ‘Gut Reaction’ Timeout Changed the Stream in Georgia’s Win Over Ohio State

Nazir’s Stackhouse: Stackhouse took advantage of the extra attention the Buckeyes tacklers were giving Jalen Carter and made three saves to rank among Georgia’s defensive starters.

Daijun Edwards: Strong runs from Edwards, whose powerful legs allowed him to power through tackles and break up a 21-yard run. Edwards also caught 9 yards and could have another breakout performance against TCU next Monday.


Jalen Carter: The No. 88 was relegated to just one tackle and one pass breakup, as Ohio State targeted Georgia’s most talented player and effectively neutralized him. Carter also missed an open field sack on Stroud, but still obstructed the inside rush lanes.

Stetson Bennet: Bennett stepped in the clutch, handed out the mandatory MVP award and held onto his stock even one night, Smart said, left something to be desired. Bennett’s three lowest-rated offensive outings have come in the last four games, according to PFF metrics. The hunch here is that Bennett will be sharp against the Horned Frogs and outplay Max Duggan in the CFP title match.

RELATED: Kirby Smart Declines Lazy Narrative, Stetson Bennett Review

Jack Podlesny: The Bulldogs kicker announced plans to play in an All-Star Game and turn pro last week, but he didn’t have a good audition against Ohio State, hitting just 2 of 4 field goals with misses of 47 and 52 meters.

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