Kirby Smart was able to guide his Georgia program past Ohio State in the Peach Bowl to reach a second straight national championship game. That game was dramatic to the final whistle with the Bulldogs clinging to a one-point win when it was all said and done.

After the game, Smart took time to recognize a Buckeye squad that was well-prepared to play. CJ Stroud was electric in the performance and nearly pulled off the win while missing a number of key offensive pieces.

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“I’ll open with a lot of respect for Ohio State, Coach Day and his program,” said Smart in his opening press conference remarks. “I saw C.J. Stroud out there, and my heart goes out to those guys because they played well enough to win the game, and they got a really good football team, so do we.”

Smart also pointed out Georgia did not play its best game, but he recognizes a big part of that came from Ohio State’s effort and game plan. In the end, he highlighted his team’s resiliency and composure for getting through into a matchup with TCU on Jan. 9.

“…I had no doubt that our team would come out fighting. We didn’t play our best football game. A lot of that had to do with Ohio State,” Smart explained. “I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of these players that are on this podium with me and the guys in the locker room. If we want any chance at winning a national championship, we have to play a lot better football than we played tonight. We’ve got to keep the resiliency and composure along with us.”