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The first kickoff of the new year features the 7-2 Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC and the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats out of the AAC in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is at Noon Eastern on January 1.
The Peach Bowl marks just the third meeting all-time between the two programs. Georgia won the previous two, in 1942 and 1976, both in the regular season.
The Bearcats may be playing with a chip on their shoulder on Friday, one of just five schools to close out their regular season without a loss, but never getting higher than No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Their resume included wins over ranked opponents like Army, SMU, and Tulsa, but a victory over an SEC-powerhouse like Georgia would certify this season that much more.
Cincy was led all season by QB Desmond Ridder. The junior was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, adding over 600 rush yards and 12 scores on the ground. Ridder, who had only one other Division I offer coming out of high school (Eastern Kentucky), was also the AAC Championship MVP, leading the Bearcats to a last-second win over Tulsa with 269 passing and 83 rushing yards in all.
The No. 9 Bulldogs closed out their regular season with three straight wins but had their matchup with Vanderbilt canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Their two losses came to the two teams that met in the SEC Championship, Florida and Alabama; Georgia was beaten handily by both schools.
Since falling to the Gators and Tide, the Bulldogs are a different team, as they’ve turned the offense over to JT Daniels. The USC transfer took over under center in the team’s final three games after fully rehabbing from a knee injury in the first part of the season. Daniels threw for nine touchdowns and just one interception, adding a much-needed jolt to an offense that has become much more explosive.
BETTING LINE AND PICK
Georgia is favored in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl by seven, with an over/under of 50.5. This is relatively unfamiliar territory for the Bearcats, who were favorites in every game this season except for one, covering as one-point dogs in a 42-13 drubbing of SMU.
You have to go back to last year to find instances of Cincinnati being dogs of at least a touchdown. They covered in back-to-back weeks against Memphis but lost both games outright.
Georgia is dealing with several opt-outs and could have even more by kickoff. However, the Bulldogs are 6-1 ATS in bowl games since 2014 and 5-4 ATS as at least a 7-point favorite in bowl games since 2004. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is 4-0 ATS in its past four as an underdog. They do not appear intimidated by their SEC opponent and will give Georgia all they can handle. Look for this one to come down to the wire.
Betting Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats (+7).