Ohio State played without star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. for the late stages of Saturday’s 42-41 loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Peach Bowl. Harrison took a big hit from the Bulldogs’ Javon Bullard late in the third quarter, entered concussion protocol and could not return to the game; Georgia outscored Ohio State 18-3 in the fourth quarter. After the game, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said injuries to Harrison and starting tight end Cade Stover “absolutely” had an impact on the outcome.
“We lost Cade early in the game, which really sent us into a little tailspin in a couple of groupings,” Day said. “I thought Xavier (Johnson) and Mitch (Rossi) and even Joe (Royer) stepping in did a nice job with something we had to work through all season.
“To say that losing Marv didn’t have an impact on the game, it absolutely did. What this guy [Stroud] did and the way he competed in the second half with all those things coming at him, I just can’t say enough. I’m so proud of the way he played. He’s not the only one, but he’s sitting right here, and he’s the quarterback of this team. Just the way he attacked this game, I couldn’t be any prouder of the way he did that. Like you said, we were missing some guys out there, and we were trying to figure it out. On the biggest stage, he played one of his best games, in my opinion.”
Officials initially flagged Bullard for targeting on the play, which would have resulted in a 15-yard penalty and Bullard’s ejection from the game. Upon video review, officials overturned the call and allowed Bullard to stay in the game.
Day did not appear to like that decision.
“I was told that it was not targeting, that he didn’t take a shot to the head, which is hard — I didn’t see it, so I don’t know. But to get a concussion and not get hit in the head, I’d have to see the replay,” Day said. “And they said that it happened after he got hit, but I’d have to take a look at the video. I wasn’t able to see the replay.”
Harrison, a sophomore, is not eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft. But he said after the game that while he wanted to come back in, he respected the training staff’s decision not to allow him to play.
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“Absolutely,” he said, via Bucknuts’ Patrick Murphy. “I respect the trainers’ decision to keep me out. At the end of the day, they’re just looking out for my health and my safety. I respect their decision though.
“I mean, I did my best. I wanted to be out there with my team. But like I said, I respect their decision. At the end of the day, they’re just looking out for my health. But I definitely tried to fight.”