Cincinnati Bearcats earn respect from Georgia in loss

ATLANTA — It was close. It was a matter of seconds. Three, toto be exact.

The eighth-ranked University of Cincinnati football team came three seconds from capturing the biggest victory in program history Friday in the Peach Bowl.

Instead, Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny tied a Peach Bowl record by nailing a 53-yard field goal with three seconds to play and giving the No. 9 (College Football Playoff ranking) Bulldogs a 22-21 lead on the No. 9 Bearcats.

The game ended as American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year Desmond Ridder was sacked in the end zone for a safety, resulting in the final score of 24-21.

Throughout 2020 Cincinnati (9-1) showed it was college football's best Group of Five team. Its defense was among the top ranked in the FBS, and Ridder was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the nation. But to the masses, the Bearcats were still just a Group of Five team.

Quarterback Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats showed they were clearly the best of the Group of Five teams and were three seconds away from furthering their argument with a victory over SEC power Georgia.

Power Five Georgia (8-2), which is three years removed from playing for a national championship inside the same stadium (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) as Friday's Peach Bowl, is one of the "blue blood" programs, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said.

While Fickell's Bearcats didn't earn enough respect from the College Football Playoff selection committee to receive a spot in the four-team playoff, they did earn the respect of the Southeastern Conference's Bulldogs.

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