Georgia Routs Michigan in Dominant Win, Will Play Alabama in 2021 CFP Championship

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2022

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett passes against Michigan during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Georgia is one game away from its first national championship since 1980 after a 34-11 win over Michigan in the 2021 Orange Bowl.

Stetson Bennett was nearly flawless Friday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, throwing three touchdown passes for the Bulldogs. The defense held up its end of the bargain, forcing three turnovers for what became an easy win in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Even with Michigan entering as the No. 2 seed, it was No. 3 seeded Georgia that dominated from the start with an offensive explosion in the first half:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

No. 3 Georgia is the 1st team to score on its first 5 drives in a College Football Playoff game.<br><br>It's all Bulldogs at halftime, they lead No. 2 Michigan, 27-3. <a href="https://t.co/s5ykWVH965">pic.twitter.com/s5ykWVH965</a>

The Wolverines couldn't match the success and were held to their lowest point total of the season.

It sets up a rematch of the SEC Championship Game for the national title as Georgia (13-1) will try to avenge its 41-24 loss to Alabama earlier this month. The Crimson Tide defeated Cincinnati in the first semifinal Friday.

Michigan (12-2) was making its first appearance in the College Football Playoff, but the run was short-lived as the squad's biggest stars were held in check.

Notable Performances

Stetson Bennett, QB, UGA: 20-30, 310 passing yards, 3 TDs

James Cook, RB, UGA: 6 carries, 32 rushing yards, 4 catches, 109 receiving yards, 1 TD

Brock Bowers, WR, UGA: 5 catches, 55 receiving yards, 1 TD

Cade McNamara, QB, MICH: 11-19, 106 passing yards, 2 INTs

J.J. McCarthy, QB, MICH: 7-17, 131 passing yards, 1 TD

Hassan Haskins, RB, MICH: 9 carries, 39 rushing yards

Stetson Bennett Ignites Georgia Offense

After getting plenty of criticism from the SEC Championship Game, Stetson Bennett silenced doubters with an outstanding showing in the Orange Bowl.

Bennett was in complete control of the game and produced beautiful throws to key the Georgia attack.

ESPN @espn

DAWGS STRIKE FIRST ‼️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/qIGDGazT9o">pic.twitter.com/qIGDGazT9o</a>

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

The Mailman delivers a dime 🎯<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/kGrKbLSUru">pic.twitter.com/kGrKbLSUru</a>

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Stetson Bennett with a BEAUTY for the 57-yard TD 🔥<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/Guzy9W0G6A">pic.twitter.com/Guzy9W0G6A</a>

ESPN @espn

What a performance from the Dawgs 😤<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/YfyW7SO1R5">pic.twitter.com/YfyW7SO1R5</a>

Though many expected a run-first attack from the Bulldogs, it was Bennett who stole the show:

Greg McElroy @GregMcElroy

Stetson. Freakin’. Bennett. <br><br>Y’all quit hating. Dude can play.

Royden Ogletree @roydenogletree

Michigan is making a Stetson Bennett look like Vince Young

Adam Rittenberg @ESPNRittenberg

Stetson Bennett is dominating this Michigan defense. What a response from the SEC title game.

Jason Butt @JasonHButt

Y’all put some respect on Stetson Bennett’s name after throwing that dot while getting crushed.

Georgia also got creative offensively as running back Kenny McIntosh threw a touchdown pass in the first quarter.

ESPN @espn

GEORGIA PULLED OUT THE TRICKS TO SCORE 🤯<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/7sSnq1MbaA">pic.twitter.com/7sSnq1MbaA</a>

It gave Michigan even more to think about as it tried to slow down this offense.

Georgia slowed its production in the second half, but Bennett didn't provide much opportunity for a comeback thanks to an efficient, mistake-free showing in the most important game of his career to date.

If the senior can repeat this performance against Alabama, the Bulldogs will be difficult to beat.

Georgia Wins Battle of Highly Touted Defenses

Michigan had an elite defense this season, tied for fourth in the country with just 16.1 points allowed per game. Heisman Trophy runner-up Aidan Hutchinson keyed one of the best pass-rushes in college football.

Of course, Georgia was even better (NCAA-best 9.5 points allowed per game), and it demonstrated its prowess throughout Friday's game.

The Bulldogs thrived at all levels of the defense and made game-changing plays.

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

Georgia's defense is swarming ⚡️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/KIeWa00icK">pic.twitter.com/KIeWa00icK</a>

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

A pick for Georgia!<br><br>The Dawgs are cruising 🐶 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/jIlJl2rFJl">pic.twitter.com/jIlJl2rFJl</a>

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

Georgia's defense comes up big with another interception‼️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> <a href="https://t.co/gEImSg1vh8">pic.twitter.com/gEImSg1vh8</a>

It was hard not to be impressed by the team's effort against a quality opponent.

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

This is the Georgia defense from its first 12 games. Relentless and suffocating.

Trey Wallace @TreyWallace_

Georgia defense making this Michigan offensive line look silly. Two sacks so far, along with multiple quarteback hurries. <br><br>While Michigan double-teams Jordan Davis at times, it’s opening up lanes of havoc for teammates.

Trending Topic 🤫 @BigTicket73

Georgia defense is CRAZY😭

Trent Rush @TrentRushSports

Lott Trophy Finalists Nakobe Dean &amp; Jordan Davis have been outstanding tonight. Bulldogs D is insane.

The unit allowed just 3.1 rushing yards per carry from Michigan while quarterbacks Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy were under pressure all game long. The Wolverines only found the end zone in the final five minutes, with the outcome no longer in question. 

On the other side of the field, Michigan's defense had a hard time stopping either the run or the pass.

Georgia had a solid game plan to limit Hutchinson's impact:

Pat Forde @ByPatForde

Four possessions, four scores for Georgia. Bulldogs have done a great job gameplanning for Hutchinson in pass protection -- doubling him, chipping him -- while also getting the ball out quickly.

Bud Elliott @BudElliott3

Georgia is consistently giving extra attention to Hutchinson and trusting its interior guys to win against Michigan DTs and they are

It kept the All-American relatively quiet after starring all season long.

The cornerbacks also couldn't match up in man coverage as Georgia had one explosive play after another.

It let the SEC squad build an insurmountable lead on the way to an Orange Bowl victory.