Ohio State’s College Football Playoff semifinal showdown with No. 1 Georgia is just a day away.
With the Buckeyes and Bulldogs set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day took the podium one last time to address the media alongside Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, breaking down the matchup and the week leading into the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
“It’s been a great week for our guys,” Day said. “Got down here Christmas night and had a great week. I think everything has been very convenient for our players, staying at the Omni (Hotel), and making the quick trip over to Mercedes Benz Stadium right around the corner.”
In keeping with the trend of going through what looks like a regular game week for OSU, the team will go through a final set of activities Friday night before beginning their game day routine in the run up to the contest.
“We have our night together on Friday. We call it ‘Best Fridays in football,’” Day said. “It will be a long (Saturday), getting ready for this game and the 8 o’clock kickoff. So we try to do the best we can at keeping the routine the same, and that’s meetings, walkthrough over at the stadium, and we come together for dinner, movies, watch some football, and then get to bed.”
A major theme this week for Day has been violence, that he wants his team to play more violent than it has all year.
In keeping with that, Day stated earlier in the week that the most important battles will be along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It will be important for Ohio State to keep an edge on both its offensive and defensive lines.
“It’s football, and you have to play physical,” Day said. “When you’re playing in the CFP, certainly it’s going to be the most physical game you’ve played all season. The SEC and the Big Ten coming together, like you said, for years, two of the most physical conferences there are out there.”
No matchup has been more discussed in the buildup to the championship eliminator than the one between Ohio State’s offense and Georgia’s defense. The Buckeyes score the second-most points in all of college football, the Bulldogs allow the second-fewest.
UG has churned out draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, with five defenders drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft alone. OSU has a similar track record at offensive skill positions, with two wide receivers — three if you count Jameson Williams, who transferred from Ohio State to Alabama prior to his breakout junior season — going in the opening round of this past year’s draft as well.
“Georgia’s defense is complete,” Day said. “They have really good players in the back end, very, very talented, highly recruited, and been developed at a high level with tremendous scheme. Then when you go into the front, athletic linebackers who can run sideline to sideline and their front is powerful. So you see the statistics. You see the way they played all year.”
Regardless, Saturday presents a clash of two of the sport’s strongest brands and perennial powers.
“I have so much respect for what Kirby’s done and what he’s built. Winning the National Championship last year and certainly his team has played unbelievably this season,” Day said. “When you look at the beginning of the year, you say to yourself where are we going to see ourselves in December, and this is the exact situation we saw ourselves in. We knew that Georgia would be right here, and they do an unbelievable job of recruiting and coaching and playing. So here we are.”