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Georgia Bulldogs Running Back Zamir White (3). (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire)
December 28th, 2021
The second College Football Playoff semifinal, the Orange Bowl, matches a pair of defensive stalwarts, Georgia and Michigan. Both enter with a 12-1 record.
Georgia is smarting after being humbled by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs' mighty defensive reputation was left in shambles, and they would love to earn a measure of redemption by shutting down high-scoring Michigan.
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh finally got it done in his seventh season, defeating Ohio State by a 42-27 margin, and Michigan fans suddenly love their coach again. The Wolverines sealed their first CFP appearance by blowing out Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Georgia and Michigan like to pound the opposition on the ground, mixing in the pass with run-heavy game plans, and neither wants to be forced to throw by falling behind.
Prior to the SEC championship, Georgia allowed only four opponents to reach double digits, none scoring more than 17 points, and the Bulldogs appeared to tower over college football by virtue of their dominant defense.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has Kirby Smart’s number and is now 4-0 against his former protégé, but nobody expected to see Georgia get smashed as a six-point favorite last time, surrendering 41 points and 536 total yards in a game that was never close in the second half.
Bryce Young had a Heisman-worthy first half: 🔥 286 yards🔥 3 TDsAlabama leads Georgia 24-17 in the SEC Championship 🐘 pic.twitter.com/sntgyIc4CN— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 4, 2021
Bryce Young had a Heisman-worthy first half: 🔥 286 yards🔥 3 TDsAlabama leads Georgia 24-17 in the SEC Championship 🐘 pic.twitter.com/sntgyIc4CN
Alabama exploited Georgia’s secondary, but no team came close to running the ball successfully on the Bulldogs. Amazingly, Georgia has given up only three rushing touchdowns.
Stetson Bennett lacks a big arm, but he takes care of the ball and has good chemistry with his leading receiver, tight end Brock Bowers. Georgia took advantage of scoring opportunities during the regular season, winning 12 straight by nearly 33 points per game.
Defeating bowl teams in the last three games, Michigan scored a combined 143 points and won by 30-plus points per game. The offense is rolling.
Hassan Haskins piled up 169 rushing yards and five touchdowns on Ohio State, finishing the year with 1,288 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and Blake Corum provides an outstanding 1-2 punch for Michigan’s top-10 rushing attack.
Hassan Haskins has 20 Rush TD this season, passing Ron Johnson (19 in 1968) for the most in a season in Michigan history.Haskins' 9 Rush TD in his last 3 games makes him the 1st Michigan player with 9 Rush TD in a 3-game span since Anthony Thomas, spanning the 1998-99 seasons. pic.twitter.com/JQ4e0VEi5e— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 5, 2021
Hassan Haskins has 20 Rush TD this season, passing Ron Johnson (19 in 1968) for the most in a season in Michigan history.Haskins' 9 Rush TD in his last 3 games makes him the 1st Michigan player with 9 Rush TD in a 3-game span since Anthony Thomas, spanning the 1998-99 seasons. pic.twitter.com/JQ4e0VEi5e
Cade McNamara, who is at his best when rolling out of the pocket, improved in his final season at the helm. Freshman J.J. McCarthy, who receives a limited number of snaps every game, can throw over the top of defenses.
Featuring the nation’s top pass-rushing tandem, Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, Michigan’s suffocating defense made points difficult to come by. The Wolverines covered the final five games, and eight of the last nine, and Michigan brings a +5 turnover margin to the Orange Bowl.
Georgia and Michigan aim to run the ball and play sound defense, but circumstances are different for each program.
Georgia’s pride is on the line after being embarrassed, and Michigan is happy to join the party.
Fast starts are an edge for Georgia, which jumped out to a 10-0 advantage before Alabama found its rhythm, and Michigan will need time to acclimate to the Bulldogs' size and speed.
One of the best run defenses in college football history, Georgia proved vulnerable on the back end, but Michigan lacks the passing game to exploit Georgia’s weakness.
Georgia will jump on Michigan early, control the clock with time-consuming drives, and ride its mighty defense to a comfortable victory.
Our predictive engine is calling for Georgia to win outright.
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