2021 Orange Bowl Preview

2021 Orange Bowl Preview
Spread the love

Looking At the Second Semi-Final Game

The nightcap of the college football semi-finals features a match-up of teams considered mirror images of each other. When Georgia and Michigan kick off in the Hard Rock Stadium it’s a battle of two teams that want to run the ball and have strong defenses. Who has the edge in the Orange Bowl and who heads to the national championship? Let’s take a look at our 2021 Orange Bowl Preview.

A Breakthrough Season

If you go back to the summer and search for any “coaching hot seat” posts the name near the top was always Jim Harbaugh. Following a 2-4 season in 2020 many thought, he needed a big year to hold onto his job. That’s exactly what happened as the Wolverines started off 7-0. While they did lose 37-33 at Michigan State it was a mere bump in the road. After winning their next three, the elephant in the room awaited them and that of course is Ohio State. Not only did they finally beat the Buckeyes but they did it emphatically winning 42-27. In the process, they broke an eight-game losing streak to OSU. As a result, Harbaugh was named AP Coach Of The Year. It also got them the two seed in the playoff.

Cade McNamara is the man under center for Michigan. On the season he completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,470 yards and 15 touchdowns. His favorite targets are wide receiver Cornelius Johnson and tight end Erick All. Between the two they combined for 72 receptions, nearly 1,000 yards, and five touchdowns. In all the Wolverines have four receivers with more than 20 catches.

However, if we’re talking Michigan football then you have to discuss the running game. They’re headed by Hassan Haskins who led the Big 10 with 20 touchdowns and was second in rushing yards with 1,288. If that wasn’t enough they also have Blake Corum, who just missed 1,000 yards rushing despite missing two games. Overall the Wolverines ranked 10th in football averaging 223 yards a game.

As we continue our 2021 Orange Bowl preview let’s turn to the Bulldogs.

How Georgia Got Here

For the first 12 weeks of the 2021 college football season, Kirby Smart‘s club was the undisputed top team in the land. Unfortunately, for the Bulldog faithful, the 13th week proved unlucky. Facing Nick Saban and Alabama, the Bulldogs couldn’t finish the job losing 41-24. The normally stout UGA defense gave up 536 total yards. Led by Heisman winner Bryce Young who threw for 421 yards and three scores, the Crimson Tide showed at least for one night Georgia wasn’t unbeatable. That loss dropped them from the one to the three seed.

Stetson Bennett is the man under center for the Bulldogs. The much-maligned senior threw for 2,325 yards and 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Freshman tight end Brock Bowers is his favorite target. On the season he hauled in 47 passes for 791 yards and 11 touchdowns. That last number was second in the SEC. However, he saved his best game for last with 10 receptions for 139 yards in the loss to Alabama. Of course, JT Daniels could be in the mix as well at quarterback.

Let’s face it though when you think of the Bulldogs you don’t think of the passing game. Zamir White, who gained 718 yards and 10 touchdowns, and James Cook lead the rushing attack. Cook added 619 yards and seven scores while a third back Kenny McIntosh had 319. Look for Georgia to rotate them in and out in hopes of wearing down the Michigan defense. Speaking of defenses both teams have stellar units. As we continue our 2021 Orange Bowl preview let’s look at that side of the ball.

Both Team’s Strength

The Bulldogs are number one in the country giving up 9.5 points a game with three shutouts. However, take away the 41 Alabama dropped on them and the numbers are even better. Led by Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt Georgia only allowed 81 yards per game and three touchdowns on the season. Both players skipped the NFL Draft for a chance at a title and now that chance is here. Another Bulldog linebacker Nakobe Dean earned All-American honors after recording 61 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan is led by All-American Aidan Hutchinson, another player who skipped the NFL Draft. Hutchinson set a school record with 14 sacks and was named the MVP of the Big 10 championship game. He also finished second to Young in the Heisman voting. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him as the number one prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft.

In addition linebacker, David Ojabo added 12 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. For the year the Wolverines rank 21st in football giving up 122 yards a game. Whose defense gets the upper hand is going to determine who moves onto the championship game.

Series And Bowl History

Despite being two of the more storied programs in college football Georgia and Michigan have only met twice in history. Both games were played in Ann Arbor with Michigan winning the initial contest 26-0 in 1957. They met again eight years later with the Bulldogs gaining a 15-7 victory and haven’t played since.

Overall the Wolverines are 21-27 in bowls and have lost their last four. You have to go back to the 2016 Citrus Bowl when they knocked off Florida 41-7 for their last win. In addition, that’s Harbaugh’s only bowl win. They’ve played in the Orange Bowl three times going 1-2. The one win came against Alabama 35-34 in 2000.

On the other side of the ball, this will be Georgia’s 58th bowl game, tied for second all-time. They sport a record of 33-21-3 which puts them third in most wins. Under Smart, they are 4-2 and have won two in a row. They’ve also played three times in the Orange Bowl. However, the last time was all the way back in 1960 when they beat Missouri 14-0. Overall UGA is 2-1.

Now that we’ve set the table for you it’s prediction time with our 2021 Orange Bowl preview.

Who Goes To Indianapolis?

Both teams have something to prove in Friday night’s game. For Georgia, they must put the Alabama game behind them and prove it was a fluke. If they play like they did the first 12 games of the year then they should win. A possible rematch with the Crimson Tide awaits in the title game. That assuming they get past Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Michigan finally beat Ohio State and won their first Big 10 Championship under Harbaugh. No team was more impressive in the final weeks of the year as they rolled up 42 points in back-to-back games heading into the playoffs. A win here gives them a chance at their 12th national championship and first since 1997.

The Wolverines did a better job of mixing the run and pass and if they follow the Alabama blueprint they’ve got a great chance. When the Georgia defense couldn’t get to Young he lit up the Bulldog backfield. With the nation’s best offensive line they’ve certainly got a chance.

This should be a really close game that goes down to the wire. In the end, Georgia remembers what got them here in the first place and heads to a rematch with Alabama.

Georgia 28  Michigan 24

Thanks for checking out our 2021 Orange Bowl preview with us here at Last Word On College Football. You hate to put out any bad vibes but all this could change on a dime if either team has COVID issues. The NCAA has already said if one team can’t play then the other squad moves on via forfeit. Let’s hope this one gets settled on the field.