Daniels, a redshirt sophomore quarterback transfer from USC, stayed cool as ever with the game on the line, methodically moving Georgia (8-2) downfield to set up the game-winning field goal in the 24-21 victory over Cincinnati (9-1).
The Bearcats’ pass defense, ranked No. 2 in the nation, proved as tricky and difficult to scheme up as expected.
Cincinnati extended its nation-long active streak of games forcing a turnover (20) with a first-quarter interception in the end zone when Daniels and George Pickens got their wires crossed.
Cincinnati’s pass rush and pressure package was a handful for Georgia’s shuffled offensive, line.
The Bearcats beat the Bulldogs in the trenches all day, holding UGA to just 45 yards rushing on 24 attempts with no runs longer than 12 yards.
By making Georgia one-dimensional, Cincinnati was able to pin its ears back and deliver several shots on Daniels, including a forced fumble as he attempted to flee a fierce pass rush on yet another empty Red Zone possession.
And yet, on the final drive, Daniels was able to complete 5 of 7 passes for 44 yards, capping off a performance that saw him go 26-of-38 passing for 392 yards and a touchdown.
Daniels moved to 4-0 as the Bulldogs’ starter with the victory, the offense looking reinvigorated with him under center.
“At this point, I feel like I’ve been here for years,” Daniels said. “Instantly, when I came in, I felt a connection with the team, a connection with the way this program is run is the way I would say it. We’re all about ball.
“It’s something you can say about pretty much the whole team, is that everyone just loves football. We’re here to do our thing and be the best players we can be.”
Daniels struck deep often on the Bearcats, connecting with George Pickens on a 51-yard strike in the first quarter, and finding Arian Smith on a 55-yard bomb, and Kearis Jackson on a 42-yard gain.
But there was also the interception in the end zone, and a fourth-and-1 pass that Daniels fired into Jackson’s arms for what appeared to be a first down until Jackson dropped it.
Daniels, as many now recognize is his nature, didn’t let it bother him and was as happy as anyone after the game.
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“Over the last two and a half months, I’ve really just enjoyed the time of being with like-minded guys that are all about work,” Daniels said, “all about ball, all about competing.”
Daniels finished the season 80-of-119 passing (67.23 percent) for 1,231 yards with 10 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 178.49 passer rating.
For perspective, here’s the QB rating for 5 other notable quarterbacks at the time of this writing:
• Alabama QB Mac Jones, 202.35