The second half of the College Football Playoff semifinals is scheduled for Friday night between the no. 2 Michigan Wolverines and the no. 3 Georgia Bulldogs. Officially, this game is the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Bulldogs are entering the game as 7.5-point favorites, with the over/under listed at 45.5 points.
For most of the regular season, Georgia was considered the best team in the country. That perception changed a little after the Bulldogs lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. But that doesn’t change how impressive they were on their way to being 12-0, winning all but one game by at least 17 points.
Of course, there’s no denying how impressive Michigan’s resume looks heading into the CFP. The Wolverines let a game against Michigan State slip away and a couple of other close calls. But in wins over Ohio State and Iowa to close out the season, Michigan was as impressive as any other team in the country.
Big Blue Wall
Michigan was led by a top-flight defense all season, giving up just 16.1 points per game. The Wolverines were one of the few teams that managed to keep Ohio State’s potent offense contained while also keeping seven of their 13 opponents to 14 points or less. While there is talent all over, Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo combined for 25 sacks this year, making them the best pass-rushing duo in the country.
Nothing goes better with an elite defense than a great rushing attack, which Michigan also possesses. Hassan Haskins rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns this season while understudy Blake Corum averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Michigan has also received steady play from quarterback Cade McNamara, although he hasn’t necessarily proven that he can carry the offense if needed.
Until the SEC Championship Game, Georgia had what many believe to be a historically good defense. The Bulldogs led the nation by allowing just 9.5 points per game with three shutouts. In fact, outside of Alabama, no team scored more than 17 points against the Bulldogs, with only three other teams managing more than 10 points.
Alas, the loss to Alabama did raise questions about quarterback Stetson Bennett, especially with J.T. Daniels, who began the season as the starter. Naturally, the Bulldogs leaned on their running game for most of the season, with Zamir White and James Cook both having productive seasons.
However, with Bennett and the fact that Georgia’s leading receiver was a tight end, there are some questions about Georgia’s passing attack.
Down to the Wire
Both of these teams have elite defenses and good running games but have passing attacks that leave something to be desired. That will likely lead to a close game in which points are at a premium. In the end, it’s going to be tough for Georgia to pull away and win by a comfortable margin if the Bulldogs can’t create big plays in the passing game.
The best bet in this game is to pick Michigan to stay close enough to beat the 7.5-point spread. However, the Wolverines winning the game and advancing to the national championship game shouldn’t be ruled out either.
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