The second CFP Semifinal to be played on New Year’s Eve will #3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1) vs. the Big Ten Champion (first conference title since 2004), #2 Michigan Wolverines (12-1). This will be Georgia’s second appearance in the College Football Playoff; they lost the National Championship game in 2018 to Alabama. Kirby Smart hopes this trip to the College Football Playoff ends with the Bulldogs first National Championship since 1980. Jim Harbaugh is now the first coach to make the NFL Playoffs and the College Football Playoffs. This will be the Wolverines first appearance in the College Football Playoffs; after winning 12 games in a season for the first time since 1997. Michigan’s last National Championship was 1998 after defeating Washington State in the Rose Bowl. This will be the second game between the schools, their only meeting came in 1965 with Georgia winning 15-7 at Michigan Stadium.
Georgia Vs. Michigan Betting Odds
Georgia Betting Odds
Georgia is a 7.5-point favorite over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. The Bulldogs are 8-5 against the spread this season. Georgia is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games following a straight up loss.
Georgia’s strength is their defense. Throughout the season, they were the most dominant unit in all of college football. But, giving up 41 points to Alabama in the SEC Championship game has taken some of the luster off the Georgia defense. Despite the loss to the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs defense is allowing 9.5 points per game which is number one in the country and they’re second nationally allowing 254.4 total yards per game to their opponents. Jordan Davis is the dominant force of the group. This campaign he has 28 total tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. Davis is the first player since Aaron Donald (2013) to win both the Bednarik Award (best defender) and Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) in a season. Nakobe Dean is tied for the team lead in tackles for 61. Dean also has five sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions (including a touchdown) and four passes defensed.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on leads the Georgia offense. On the season he has thrown for 2,325 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions and has completed 64.1% of his passes. Bennett is a quarterback who takes care of the football, but he did have two costly interceptions in the SEC Championship game against Alabama that contributed to the loss. It still surprises me that Georgia sticks with Stetson Bennett at quarterback. JT Daniels the USC transfer is on the bench ready to go but hasn’t started a game since September 18 against South Carolina. Bennett is certainly serviceable, but will he be able to make enough plays against the stout Michigan defense.
Tight end Brock Bowers is the Bulldogs leading receiver with 47 receptions for 791: averaging 16.8 yards per catch. His 11 touchdown grabs are a single season record for a Georgia tight end. Bowers is an imposing player reminding me of the Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, he’s a matchup nightmare for defenses due to his precise route running and quickness. Ladd McConkey is second on the team in receiving with 29 receptions for 430 yards and five touchdowns. Injuries have really affected the Bulldogs receivers this season. George Pickens returned from a torn ACL, which he suffered in the spring and played in Georgia’s past two games. It’ll be interesting to see what his impact will be in the Orange Bowl.
The Georgia rushing attack is averaging 194.8 yards per game, ranked 30th in the country. Zamir White leads the Bulldogs in rushing (718) and touchdowns on the ground (11). In 25 career games at Georgia, White has rushed for 1,905 yards. In 13 games this season, James Cook is second on the team in rushing with 619 yards: averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He’s also added 157 receiving yards and accounted for 10 touchdowns in 2021 (seven rushing and three receiving).
Michigan Betting Odds
The Wolverines enter the Orange Bowl a 7.5-point underdog to the Bulldogs. Michigan is 11-2 against the spread this season. The Wolverines are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games overall.
This year’s Michigan team is built like Harbaugh’s teams at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers before Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith at quarterback. They run the ball “down your throat,” play tough hard-nosed defense, control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and limit their turnovers.
The Wolverines are averaging 451.9 yards of total offense and scoring 37.7 points per game this season.
The rushing attack is led by Hassan Haskins with 1,288 yards this season. He’s run for at least 100 yards in six games this season; averaging 99.1 rushing yards per game. Haskins has an incredible 20 rushing touchdowns this season; tied for second in the FBS. The senior has a knack for coming up big for the Wolverines in their biggest games this season, rushing for 169 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Ohio State and scoring two touchdowns in the Big Ten Championship game victory over Iowa. Blake Corum is second on the team in rushing with 939 yards; averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He also has 11 touchdowns on the ground. The battle in the trenches between Michigan’s offensive line and Georgia’s defensive line will be fascinating.
Quarterback Cade McNamera completed 66.7% of his passes and threw a touchdown in the Big Ten Championship game victory over Iowa. On the season, he’s thrown for 2,470 yards, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions while completing 64.6% of his passes. I expect McNamara will have to complete a few big throws as the rushing game could get bottled up. Backup quarterback J.J. McCarthy can also have an impact on the game. He’s thrown for 385 yards, rushed for 100 yards, and has accounted for six touchdowns (four passing and two rushing) in 2021.
Cornelius Johnson is Michigan’s leading receiver this season, with 38 catches for 609 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 16 yards a catch in 2021. Roman Wilson is second on the team in receiving with 24 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Andrel Anthony could be the “X” factor in the Wolverines passing game in the Orange Bowl as he’s leading the team averaging 19.4 yards a reception.
Michigan is allowing 315.8 yards of total offense to their opponents and 16.1 points per game, ranking them fourth in the country.
Defensively the team is led by defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, linebackers David Ojabo and Josh Ross. At times, Aidan Hutchinson has simply been a one-man wrecking crew for the Wolverines in 2021, setting a Michigan single-season record with 14 sacks. A Heisman Trophy finalist he has 33 solo tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 2021. Hutchinson is a big-game player, in the win vs. Ohio State he had 15 quarterback pressures the most against a Power Five program in 2021, per PFF. In the Big Ten Championship game in which he was named MVP, he had four total tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. He’s currently the projected number one overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by multiple media outlets. After playing one game in the COVID shortened 2020 season, David Ojabo burst onto the scene and has been one of the best linebackers in the country. The sophomore is second on the team in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (12). Additionally, he led the Big Ten in forced fumbles with five. Ross, a fifth-year senior, leads the Wolverines i
Georgia Vs. Michigan Picks & Prediction
Whoever controls the line of scrimmage will win this game, with that thought I’ll take Michigan to win this game especially at +7.5 points. Stetson Bennett will make a costly mistake like he did against Alabama. Cade McNamara will play an efficient game and the Wolverines will continue to the National Championship game.