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Jaxon Smith-Njigba Out, How it Helps Georgia's Chances

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will not play in the Peach Bowl so how will his absence help Georgia?

Earlier this week, news broke that one of Ohio State's star wide receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba had decided to go ahead and declare for the NFL draft and not play in the Peach Bowl for the opening round of the playoffs. Smith-Njigba has been out for well over the majority of this season due to a hamstring injury. 

Before this season, Smith-Njigba was labeled as one of the best wide receivers in college football and had the potential to become a no-doubt first-round pick. If Ohio State were to have paired Smith-Njigba back up with Marvin Harrison, the Buckeye's offense would be in perfect form for a playoff run. 

So how does Smith-Njigba's absence help Georgia's chances for this semifinal matchup? 

When thinking about teams in the past who have given Kirby Smart's defense the most issues there appears to be a common theme. Going all the way back to the 2019 SEC Championship game, the Bulldogs were handled by a high-powered LSU offense led by the likes of Jamar Chase and Justin Jefferson. Fast forward to the next year, Georgia goes on the road to get thrashed by DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Then in last year's SEC Championship game John Metchie and Jameson Williams torched the Bulldogs. 

In short, teams with the luxury of utilizing two world-class wide receivers are the games where Georgia's immensely talented defense doesn't look so dominant. 

However, the results look very different in games when Georgia's defense has had to scheme against just one threat on the outside. Think back to when the Bulldogs went up against Arkansas and former first-round pick Treylon Burks in 2021. He finished with three receptions for 10 yards and Georgia coasted to a shutout win. Burks finished that season with 1,104 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns that season. 

Or even this season when Georgia was tasked with trying to halt the success of Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt. The Biletnikoff award finalist came away with six receptions for 63 yards and zero touchdowns in the Volunteer's loss to Georgia. 

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The outcomes of when Georgia has faced just one outside threat are drastically different compared to the games when they had to match up against two of them. It's the difference in them giving up 281 and three touchdowns to Metchie and Williams instead of just 63 or 10 yards to just one player. 

Georgia will still have their hands full with trying to maintain the duo of CJ Stroud and Harrison who has 1,157 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this season, but their chances of doing so are a lot higher now with Smith-Njigba no longer in the picture. 

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