After its disappointing showing in the SEC title game, many onlookers gave up on UGA Football. This was not entirely undeserved, as that was easily the Dawgs biggest moment of the season and they blew it.
However, due to convenient playoff seedings, Georgia had a chance at redemption. All the Bulldogs had to do was beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Upon doing so, they would be in the national title game against Alabama (the one that had beaten them in Atlanta).
Now Michigan was in no way supposed to be a cake-walk. The Wolverines are headlined by Heisman finalist Adrian Hutchinson, UM appeared to have the physicality to keep up with UGA. Not only that, but the Dawgs were also having some issues with COVID-19.
The combo of Michigan’s formidability and Georgia’s hindrances could have proven fatal for the latter’s title run. But nothing changed the desire that UGA Football had to win back the hearts that they had lost.
The Scene Before The Orange Bowl
From the start, Georgia/Michigan was expected to be the closer of the two semifinal matchups. The Cotton Bowl (Cincinnati/Alabama) was humored by nothing more than wishful thinking. Meanwhile, conference title game performances had thrown the Orange Bowl into a pit of uncertainty for many.
UGA could have definitely been in a worse situation, though. For example, the COVID concerns could have left the Dawgs in worse shape roster-wise. But through it all, impactful players were ready when needed.
Georgia already had its reasons to be motivated for their game on New Year’s Eve. However, one piece of news boosted the team’s drive for sure, and that was hearing about the Crimson Tide downing the Bearcats, 27-6. This meant that the Bulldogs had confirmed their alleyway for a shot at revenge: Just beat the Wolverines.
How UGA Football Sent Its Message
It didn’t take too long after the game had begun for Georgia to have seven on the board. This put an already-antsy Michigan up against the wall early, and things only got worse from there.
Over a short stretch of time, 7-0 became 14-0, and that became 17-0. Before halftime had even struck, the Wolverines had been dealt the same 17-3 deficit that Cincinnati saw against Alabama a few hours prior.
The Wolverines probably found themselves wishing for the 1st-half defense that Cincy had, though, as UGA Football actually managed to tack on 10 more before hitting the locker rooms. And that moment, with a 27-3 advantage being held halfway through the game, was where many viewers probably signed off.
Those who did stick around, however, saw nothing particularly special. Multiple UM turnovers had the score sitting at 34-3 by the 5-minute mark, a sight that left the Wolverines looking like nothing more than a shell of what they had been all year long.
For what it was worth, they did manage to hit pay dirt late, with a successful 2-point conversion. But nonetheless, there was nothing good about the ending to Michigan’s 2021 story, and that is exactly how Georgia wanted it.
What This Means For UGA Football, The National Championship
The Bulldogs, in short, looked about as good as they could have in a semifinal game. Most namely, they did so by using their renowned defense to shut down one of their toughest opponents yet. Also, they completely invalidated the notion that Michigan had the physicality to compete (one of Georgia’s biggest concerns).
To put things into perspective, Georgia beat Michigan by more than the No. 1 team beat a Group of 5 opponent. If that’s not indicative of defying the odds, nothing is. And it just might be enough to throw the title game’s outcome into question.
Now impulsively giving Georgia any edge would not be at all wise. However, the rematch with Bama certainly shouldn’t be decided by three scores this time around. It just so happens that the opening spread agrees with such a take.
Surprisingly, said spread (-2.5) is in favor of Georgia right now, so clearly it’s better to not let off the gas at any point in the CFP bracket. But the Tide thrives on feeling “disrespected,” so perhaps being doubted for their slow start against Cincy is just what they need to feel motivated.
No matter what, it still seems a little early to be making predictions. But regardless of the victor, this season’s national championship game should be one to remember.