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Georgia’s Kirby Smart issues blunt challenge to Stetson Bennett after thrilling win: ‘He must play better’

Georgia skirted by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Saturday night thanks to a missed field goal from the Buckeyes at the end of the game.

Stetson Bennett had two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs win the game 42-41. He finished with four total touchdowns on the night. His coach, Kirby Smart, wasn’t about to heap praise on the quarterback just because Georgia miraculously got the win.

Smart said immediately after the game that Bennett has to buckle down.

“He showed great competitive character, but he’s got to play within our system and he’s got to do what he’s coached to do or you can’t win games,” Smart said as his players celebrated. “He didn’t get those opportunities until the defense stopped them and we got fortunate to stop them a couple times. He must play better if we expect to win the next one.”


Ohio State jumped out to a 21-7 lead and took a 28-24 lead to halftime. The Buckeyes were then leading 38-24 going into the fourth quarter before the wild fourth quarter changed everything around. Bennett had an interception and was sacked four times. Georgia was also just 2-of-10 on third down.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates after the Peach Bowl against Ohio State, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Atlanta.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett and head coach Kirby Smart after Georgia's victory over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Atlanta.

“If we want any chance of winning the national championship, we’ve got to play a lot better football than we played tonight, but we’ve got to keep our resilience,” Smart added in the postgame press conference.

Georgia will now meet TCU for a shot at back-to-back national championships.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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