Stetson Bennett capped No. 1 Georgia’s comeback from a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit with a 10-yard, last-minute scoring pass to Adonai Mitchell in a 42-41 victory over No. 4 Ohio State for a shot at its second straight national title.
The comeback in the College Football Playoff Peach Bowl semifinal held just after midnight Sunday when Noah Ruggles’ 50-yard field goal attempt for Ohio State with three seconds remaining sailed wide left, setting off a celebration on the Georgia sideline.
Georgia (14-0) will play No. 3 TCU, which beat No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal, on Jan. 9 for the national championship. The Bulldogs, who won their first national title since 1980 last season, will play for the first back-to-back championships in school history.
C.J. Stroud threw four touchdown passes for Ohio State (11-2), which led 38-24 in the fourth quarter. Bennett’s 76-yard scoring pass to Arian Smith, followed by Bennett’s pass to Ladd McConkey on the 2-point play, cut it to 38-35.
Following Bennett’s go-ahead scoring pass to Mitchell with 54 seconds remaining, Stroud led the Buckeyes back with a 27-yard run to the Georgia 31. The missed field goal set off the Georgia celebration that left Bennett in tears.
Ruggles’ 48-yard field goal gave the Buckeyes a 41-35 lead, leaving only 2:36 for Bennett and Georgia’s offense.
Stroud completed 23 of 34 passes for 348 yards without an interception.
Stroud capped the Buckeyes’ first possession of the second half with a 10-yard scoring pass to Emeka Egbuka for a 35-24 lead — already the most points allowed in a full game by the Bulldogs this season.
Marvin Harrison Jr. had five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Egbuka had eight catches for 112 yards and one score.
Ohio State shut out Georgia in the third quarter while the Buckeyes pulled away with 10 points.
Bennett, who joined Stroud as one of four Heisman Trophy finalists, finished the game strong, completing 23 of 34 passes for 398 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Stroud’s second scoring pass, a 16-yarder to Harrison, gave the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead. Stroud escaped pressure on the play before passing to a diving Harrison in the end zone.
Georgia scored the next 17 points for a 24-21 lead. The Bulldogs had scoring runs of 11 yards by Kendall Milton and 3 yards by Bennett during the run.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes scored with devastating quickness at times. A quick-strike, 75-yard touchdown gave Ohio State a 28-24 halftime lead. Stroud completed four consecutive passes in the drive, including a 37-yard scoring pass from Stroud to Xavier Johnson.
Georgia: The Bulldogs ran for 135 yards and finished with 533 total yards, winning with offense on a night its proud defense couldn’t stop Stroud.
Ohio State TE Cade Stover, suffering back spasms, was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons, the team announced at the start of the second half. There was no immediate update.
Georgia OLB Chaz Chambliss left the game late in the first half with an apparent left knee injury. Chambliss needed help leaving the field. Georgia TE Darnell Washington was on crutches on the sideline after suffering a left ankle injury in the second period.
Georgia WR Ladd McConkey (knee) had limited playing time and RT Warren McClendon (knee) was in uniform but did not start.
Buckeyes running back Miyan Williams, who missed practice this week with a stomach bug while also still recovering from an ankle injury, had only three carries for eight yards, including a scoring plunge from the 2, in the first half.