Wow! What a game! The Cincinnati Bearcats gave the Georgia Bulldogs all the problems in the world but in the end, the Bulldogs found a way. Being down 11 in the second half and managing to stay within the game is tremendous. The Bearcats had their chances but failed to pull off the upset. In the end, the Bulldogs defended their home turf and brought one home for them and the SEC.

Here are some key takeaways from this game:

Bulldogs Offensive Line struggled big time

Let’s give the Bearcats defense a lot of credit. They rose to the challenge and limited the Bulldogs’ rushing attack to 45 yards. Although the offensive line had some new pieces, they will have to improve as they head into the offseason and contend for an SEC and national title next year. In addition to only rushing for 45 yards, they allowed three sacks and Daniels to take a lot of hits. Luckily, Daniels is a strong quarterback and was able to finish strong.

Fickell’s questionable calls with clock management

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell is getting a lot of heat and deservingly so for how he managed the Bearcats second to last drive.

First and most important: 3rd and 2 on your own 40-yard line and Fickell decided to throw the football.

The Bulldogs have no timeouts and if the Bearcats choose to run the football, whether they get it or not, they take time off of the clock. Instead, they choose to pass and it is incomplete and stops the clock. This gave the Bulldogs 94 seconds to get downfield which turned out to be too much time.

Second: Snapping the football early in the play clock.

On more than two plays, the Bearcats did not run the play clock down to less than five seconds but snapped it within ten. This contributed to the Bulldogs having more time when they got the football back. Fickell stated his decision making was in part about playing to win.

“Is that, really, are you serious? Because we’re going to play to win. We play to win,” said Fickell after the game. “And you know, we do what we do. It wasn’t like we wanted to throw the thing. It was an opportunity. It was three different options to it. You know, we’re not going to go back wondering and trying to play the wishing and wanting game. We’re going to be aggressive. We are going to go and give our guys an opportunity.”

Third: Calling timeout with 15 seconds left.

This call was more understandable but still questionable for this reason. The Bulldogs had no timeouts and the clock was running out. If the Bearcats do not call a timeout, the Bulldogs may get the play off in under ten seconds. If they are unable to get a first down or get out of bounds, the game will be over and the Bearcats have an upset win. Maybe his defense was not set or he may have seen something but you gave the Bulldogs time to get in the huddle and call another play. Even though the Bulldogs failed to get the first down, the field goal was the ending result that the Bearcats did not need.

Bulldogs future defense looks bright

While it is not clear of everybody that will declare for the NFL draft, players who did not get as much playing time this season shined well today. Some of these players include Quay Walker, Latavious Brini, Adam Anderson, Christopher Smith and Channing Tindall. Out of this group, Brini stood out finishing with five tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass deflection. Needless to say, when given the opportunity, these are some names you can expect to hear next season.

Bearcats can compete with the Heavyweights

Although the Bearcats came up short in this game, they proved that they can compete with college football’s best. To hold a great Bulldogs team to 45 yards rushing, sack the quarterback three times, allowing only 22 points (2 came from safety) and only lose by single digits says a lot. Group of five teams deserves more respect and acknowledgment moving forward. With that being said, do they deserve a spot in the college football playoff? We shall see.

Podlesny came up big

Filling the shoes of a great Georgia kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship is hard to do but in this game, he converted on all three of his field goals. He made them from 53, 32, and 37 yards out. Jack Podlesny deserves a ton of credit and love from the Bulldogs faithful.

Conclusion

It was not the best, nor the prettiest game for the Bulldogs. It was not the way to finish for the Bearcats. What matters is that a great game was played and the Bulldogs found a way to win. Could and should have the Bulldogs dominated? Possibly. Winning is what matters at the end of the day and lessons can be learned and used moving forward for both teams, specifically Georgia

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) and Stetson Bennett prepare to play Cincinnati in the NCAA college football Peach Bowl game on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

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