Peach Bowl 2022: Underrated Stars to Watch and Picks in Ohio State vs. Georgia

Joe TanseyDecember 25, 2022

Peach Bowl 2022: Underrated Stars to Watch and Picks in Ohio State vs. Georgia

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Ohio State Buckeyes running back Dallan Hayden (5) runs for a touchdown during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Maryland Terrapins on November 19, 2022 at SECU Stadium in College Park, MD.  (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the Peach Bowl in deeper injury trouble than the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Ohio State has dealt with injuries at running back and wide receiver all season.

    For the Buckeyes to upset the reigning national champion, they need some of their offensive role players to turn in massive performances inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

    Georgia is a well-oiled machine, and it will rely on all of its parts, big or small, to earn a return to the national championship game.

    The Bulldogs can rely on some lesser-known names from their roster to beat the Buckeyes in a game in which they will feel more than comfortable in after last year's title run.

Dallan Hayden, RB, Ohio State

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    COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Dallan Hayden #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at SECU Stadium on November 19, 2022 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Ohio State was ravaged by injuries at running back all season long.

    TreVeyon Henderson will not play in the Peach Bowl, and Miyan Williams returned from an injury for the clash against the Michigan Wolverines at the end of November.

    Dallan Hayden took advantage of his opportunity in the backfield throughout the season by earning 510 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

    Hayden could be massive for the Buckeyes on New Years' Eve if he is the healthiest running back available.

    Ohio State needs to establish some sort of ground game to avoid C.J. Stroud throwing 50 times and getting roughed up in the pocket by the Georgia pass rush.

    Hayden turned in a pair of 100-yard games in November, so the freshman has some confidence going into Atlanta.

    He likely will not earn another triple-digit yardage tally against the tough UGA defense, but if he breaks a few nice runs and provides some balance to the offense, Hayden will go down as one of the more valuable players for Ryan Day's side.

Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

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    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 03: Darnell Washington #0 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Most of the focus from the Ohio State defense will go to Ladd McConkey, Brock Bowers and Kenny McIntosh.

    Stetson Bennett will target all three in the passing game, but his X-factor could be tight end Darnell Washington.

    The 6'7" tight end only has two touchdown receptions this season. They both occurred in his last three games.

    Washington caught touchdown passes against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and in the SEC Championship Game against the LSU Tigers.

    Washington could be a vital asset in the red zone, and on third down when Bennett needs to hit a big target across the middle for an important conversion.

    The junior tight end will not lead the Bulldogs in receiving yards, but he could have a few of the most important catches in the Peach Bowl.

Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 12: Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Cade Stover (8) catches a 1-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter of the college football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and Ohio State Buckeyes on November 12, 2022, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Buckeyes will once again be without Jaxon Smith-Njigba at wide receiver.

    The Ohio State passing game did not have its top wideout for most of the season, so it is not as massive of a loss as it would have been if Smith-Njigba had a 1,000-yard season.

    Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka should garner a ton of attention from the UGA secondary.

    Cade Stover needs to be a reliable part of the passing attack, so that Stroud either has a checkdown option, or someone who can break free against UGA's weaker secondary players.

    Stover broke out in spurts this season with a pair of two-touchdown games. He had at least two receptions in all but one Ohio State game.

    He had four catches against Michigan. He could see even more usage against Georgia to get the Buckeyes into an offensive rhythm.

Malaki Starks, DB, Georgia

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Malaki Starks #24 of the Georgia Bulldogs warms up prior to the game against the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
    Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    Malaki Starks will be an important cog in the Georgia defensive machine.

    He will be tasked with slowing down a potent Ohio State passing attack.

    The Buckeyes could lean more on the aerial attack because of all the injuries suffered throughout the season at running back.

    Starks made 40 tackles, had seven passes defended and earned two interceptions in his freshman season.

    He could be vital in the back of the UGA defense in slowing down Marvin Harrison Jr. and Co. from making huge plays.

    Christopher Smith and Kelee Ringo are the most notable names in the UGA secondary. Starks has the potential to have a breakout game on the national stage to announce just how talented he is.