Cincinnati searches for respect in Peach Bowl against Georgia

LEFT: Desmond Ridder #9 of the Cincinnati Bearcats in action during the American Athletic Conference football championship at Nippert Stadium on December 19, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) RIGHT: Stetson Bennett #1

It has become a yearly tradition in college football’s strange landscape. An undefeated team from the "Group of Five" screams about a lack of respect by the College Football Playoff committee for being overlooked for a potential spot in the top four.

This year, it was Cincinnati’s turn from the American Athletic Conference. Luke Fickel’s team went 9-0 and won the AAC title with a 27-24 win in a driving rainstorm at home against Tulsa two weeks ago.

And yet, the Bearcats finished eighth in the CFP’s final rankings behind two loss Oklahoma at No. 6 and three loss Florida at No. 7.  When they were forced to the sidelines because of COVID issues against AAC opponents, the Bearcats kept falling down the rankings.

The one thing that does happen for teams like Cincinnati, however, is a potential opportunity at respect. For the Bearcats, that could come in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day against No. 9 and SEC power Georgia at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta (12 noon, ESPN.)

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The sports betting information

On Sportsbook, Georgia is a seven point favorite and minus-275 on the money line. (A $275 bet is needed to win $100.) The Bearcats are +225 on the money line (a $100 bet will win $225) The over-under number is 50 ½ points.

Against the spread this year, neither team lit the world on fire. Georgia was 4-5 against the spread while Cincinnati was 5-4.

The history

This is only the third meeting between the two teams and the first since Georgia’s 31-17 win in Athens back on Oct. 30, 1976. The Bulldogs have won the past two games between the two. Georgia has now appeared in five "New Year’s Six" bowl games since 2017-18 – including the 2018 CFP National Championship game. The last Cincinnati "NY6" bowl game was the 2010 Sugar Bowl, which saw the Bearcats get blitzed by Florida after Brian Kelly had left for Notre Dame.

The storylines to watch

The best unit to watch in this one could be Cincinnati’s defense, which has held opponents to 16 points a game through this season and just 110 yards on the ground. They will punish you up front and have found a way to wear every one of their opponents down. Offensively, junior quarterback Desmond Ridder has completed 67 percent of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns against six interceptions. Gerrid Doaks can be a bruising back, rushing for 4.7 yards per carry and seven touchdowns.  His best game of the year was a 184 yard performance against Houston in early November.

Georgia flew under the SEC radar this year with Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida controlling all the headlines. The Bulldogs only losses were a 41-24 loss to Bama in Tuscaloosa and a 44-28 loss to Florida in Jacksonville. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has been inconsistent and can turn the ball over – eight touchdowns, six interceptions this year. Zamir White, however, is a factor at running back, rushing for 5.6 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns – including three in the last two weeks against South Carolina and Missouri on the road.

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