Cincinnati vs. Georgia Peach Bowl Odds & Pick: How to Bet College Football New Year’s Day Matinee
Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: George Pickens.
- The Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Atlanta on Friday to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
- This game marks only one of two bowl games with a Group of Five team taking on a Power Five team, and G5 teams have found some success in these situations in the past.
- Mike Calabrese breaks down the Peach Bowl and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.
Cincinnati vs. Georgia Odds
Since the College Football Playoff started following the 2014 regular season, Group of Five champions are 3-3 straight up but a sterling 4-1-1 against the spread in New Year’s Six bowl games.
The common thread between the three outright winners was an elite offense. Boise State (‘14), Houston (‘15), and UCF (‘17) all fielded top-10 scoring offenses and scored in the 30s when given the chance to take a swing at a Power Five heavyweight.
Cincinnati has made significant improvements on offense, but it hasn’t cracked the top 10 in scoring or any significant offensive metric save for yards per carry (5.6, ninth).
Cincy’s disruptive defense (16th Havoc) certainly provides it with a blueprint to upset Georgia, but through no fault of its own, UC hasn’t faced an opponent of this quality in 2020. According to TeamRankings, the Bearcats faced the 66th-most difficult schedule in college football this season. Georgia? Second.
This is just one piece of the puzzle, but as the pieces come together, it’s harder and harder to envision a positive outcome for Luke Fickell’s team.
The Bearcats defense is the best the Group of Five has to offer, landing in the top 10 nationally in the following categories:
- Yards Per Play — 4.1 (first)
- Completion Percentage — 50.54% (third)
- Interception Percentage — 5.05% (third)
- Points Per Game — 15.5 (fifth)
- Total Defense – 309.6 (seventh)
Any way you slice it, Marcus Freeman’s defense was suffocating, especially in the early going.
A two-game stretch against SMU and Memphis was a defensive showcase for UC, holding the pair of high-scoring offenses to just 23 points combined. That impressive streak has since given way to some less-than-stellar performances, including its last two games. UCF and Tulsa combined to score 57 points while racking up 282 yards on the ground.
And that’s the key against Georgia. If Cincy can force the Dawgs to be one-dimensional, the game tilts in the Bearcats’ favor. The loss of James Cook hurts UGA, but Zamir White is more than ready to be a bell-cow in this one. The former five-star recruit has racked up three 100-yard rushing performances in his last five games, all while averaging nearly seven yards per carry.
Offensively, Cincy can point to Desmond Ridder’s significant improvement this fall as a point of pride. But Ridder’s biggest impact remains on the ground.
Cincinnati became suddenly explosive on offense, in large part, due to Ridder’s long runs off of designed QB reads. Recent history indicates that Kirby Smart-coached teams have the recipe for bottling up dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks. Last season, in the midst of Lynn Bowden Jr.’s historic run, Georgia was the only team to hold the electric quarterback under 100 yards rushing.
This is the game within the game that I believe favors the Bulldogs. If Ridder can’t break a few long runs, Cincinnati will likely regress back to its 2019 form on offense.
Cook’s absence is a setback, but other than that, the Bulldogs are trending up on offense. JT Daniels has been marvelous since taking over and gives Georgia the kind of balance it was sorely missing during embarrassing defeats to Alabama and Florida.
In his three starts, Daniels has a touchdown-to-INT ratio of 9:1, a QBR of 93.1, and the offense as a whole averaged 41.6 points per game.
He also holds the key to unlocking George Pickens’ immense potential. The supremely gifted wideout has 16 receptions and three touchdowns during Daniels’ three starts. According to the Georgia staff, he’s even kicked it up a notch in the run-blocking department since Daniels took over.
Defensively, Georgia regressed slightly over the course of the season, but it still fields a top-20 unit across the board. Where it’s special is in the running game.
No team held opponents to fewer yards per rush (2.3) or yards per game on the ground (69.3). The Bulldogs’ brick-wall front seven will eventually force Ridder to consistently beat them through the air, and as a Georgia backer in this one, I like that proposition.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In my opinion, this game is setting up a lot like the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Hawaii arrived in New Orleans as the Group of Five darling but caught a red-hot Georgia team at the wrong time.
I don’t think this will be a complete runaway, but seven points isn’t too many when you consider how valuable Georgia’s greatest strength (run defense) will be in this one.
Pick: Georgia -7.