Georgia’s Stetson Bennett shares early thoughts on Ohio State, C.J. Stroud

NEW YORK – Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett hasn’t started his deep dive into Ohio State, his team’s opponent in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, but he took time Saturday to compliment the Buckeyes during his press conference as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

“I’ve only skimmed through the Ohio State-Michigan game, but they’re big, they’re long, they look good in the uniform,” Bennett said. “I’ve been impressed with No. 12 (Lathan Ransom), I think he plays safety. He runs really well. But I haven’t really dove into them yet.”

No. 1 Georgia is facing No. 4 Ohio State on Dec. 31 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a berth in the College Football Playoff Championship game. It will be the second time the bluebloods face each other and the first since the Citrus Bowl in 1993.

The Buckeyes finished 11-1, their lone blemish occurring in their most recent contest, getting trounced by 22 points at home by archrival Michigan. The Wolverines, ranked No. 2, will face TCU in the Fiesta Bowl before the Bulldogs and Buckeyes kick off.

Ohio State won its first 11 games by double digits. That included only two ranked wins, though: 21-10 over Notre Dame (now No. 21) to start the season and 44-31 over Penn State (No. 11) on Oct. 29. From a talent standpoint, very few programs are in the same realm as the Buckeyes. The Bulldogs are one of them.

Georgia hasn’t seen many teams with Ohio State’s firepower. Quarterback C.J. Stroud also is a Heisman finalist, and he seemed the favorite for the honor until Michigan stepped in. Stroud has passed for 3,340 yards with 37 touchdowns to six interceptions. He’s expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

“I’ve only seen him a bit in passing, but he’s very accurate,” Bennett said. “One of the things I notice is how he hits them in stride and on time so that they can (get yards after catch).” Stroud praised Georgia’s overall strength and spoke glowingly of Bennett, citing his resilience.

Stroud’s top target, Marvin Harrison, might be the country’s best receiver. He has 72 catches for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Buckeyes also have an SEC-like offensive line, anchored by two excellent tackles in Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones.

The Buckeyes’ defense has a tough task ahead of it, too. After seeing Michigan look effortless in cutting through Ohio State’s secondary, it isn’t hard to envision opportunities for Georgia tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington, along with the running backs.

It sets up an exciting matchup for a championship berth.

“We’re still hungry,” Bennett said. “We’re excited to play Ohio State. Georgia vs. Ohio State doesn’t happen very much. I think maybe once in ‘92 (Jan. 1, 1993). It’s going to be fun.”