Five things we learned from Ohio State’s heartbreak at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

It sure looked like a winning effort by the Ohio State football team for most of the night. It had the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs on the ropes but couldn’t seal the deal in an all-time classic at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

There’s a lot to peel in this one, but you have to at least give the OSU team credit for coming to play and giving the Bulldogs all they could handle. However, this sure feels like a big, lost opportunity, and one that got away after a 42-41 loss.

It’s been a very rough five weeks for Ohio State football players, fans and coaches, but when you have a chance to play for some pretty big things, these emotions can be a byproduct.

We like to look at everything after each Buckeye contest and pull out five things that stood out. Here’s what we took away from this one.

Ohio State belongs

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Why it Matters

Hardly anyone gave Ohio State a chance in this one. The Bulldogs were basically touchdown favorites and almost all media members seemed to be rolling with the Dawgs and saying the Buckeyes just didn’t have what it took to beat the defending champs.

Not so.

Ohio State showed the game against Michigan wasn’t the real Ohio State and played with the lead most of the game. The Buckeyes probably should have walked away with a victory. It was a great effort and proof that the Buckeyes are good enough to play with the best.

Losing Marvin Harrison hurt

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Why it Matters

Look, I don’t know if the hit on Marvin Harrison Jr. was targeting or not; who really does these days. However, losing him down the stretch was a big deal. He and Stroud were connecting all day, and the Bulldogs had no answer for it.

You get the feeling that if Harrison Jr. hadn’t leave this game, there would have been a few more yards at the end of the game to either score a touchdown or make the last field goal a more manageable one.

Bad breaks in officiating hit the Buckeyes hard again

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Why it Matters

Ohio State had a targeted penalty overturned that would have most likely resulted in seven points (settled for 3), an overturned first down spot that would have given the Buckeyes the ball on a turnover on downs (Georgia hit  a FG) and a questionable spot on a Dallan Hayden run that wasn’t even reviewed.

Look, these officiating things go both ways, but it seems like most of the breaks went against Ohio State on Saturday, much the same way they did against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl in 2019.

Sometimes the stars don’t align, and that seems to be what we saw tonight.

The defense is still a disaster

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Why it Matters

Ohio State went out and hired Jim Knowles to be its fix-it man on defense. All we can say is that it’s been a failure in Year 1. The defense was better against most teams but certainly was not in the two biggest games of the year.

Time and time again Ohio State was burned by the big play. When it needed a stop, it simply didn’t happen against both Michigan and Georgia. I don’t know what the answer is, but so far, it hasn’t been money well spent. Something has to change because the offense was more than good enough tonight.

C.J. Stroud was flat out amazing

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Why it Matters

We’ve probably seen the last of C.J. Stroud, and he went out with arguably his best performance in an Ohio State uniform. Not only did he slice and dice a good Georgia defense through the air, but he also had several big runs to extend drives and put the Buckeyes in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

Stroud completed 23-of-33 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 12 times for 34 yards. Ohio State didn’t lose this game because of him; it did so on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, his legacy will be complicated without a win over Michigan or a College Football Playoff win, but he’s still a gamer and one of the best to sling it around in the scarlet and gray.

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire