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Orange Bowl 2021: Updated Odds and Preview for Michigan vs. Georgia

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 6, 2021

Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) follows a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Two of the most recognizable programs in college football square off in the Orange Bowl for the right to play in the national championship.

The Michigan Wolverines are making their first College Football Playoff appearance, while the Georgia Bulldogs are in the final four for only the second time. 

Georgia's previous playoff appearance resulted in a championship game berth, where it lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide on a game-winning touchdown catch from DeVonta Smith in overtime.

The Bulldogs will hope their fortunes are a bit better this time around, and they will have their eye on a potential SEC Championship Game rematch with Alabama. 

Michigan is attempting to become the second Big Ten team in a row to advance to the final, after the Ohio State Buckeyes got there last season and lost to Alabama. 

Georgia comes into the Orange Bowl off a loss to Alabama, but it is still the favorite to win at Hard Rock Stadium on Dec. 31. The Bulldogs are projected to beat the Wolverines by a touchdown. 

        

Orange Bowl Information

Date: Friday, 31 December

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET 

TV: ESPN 

Live Stream: ESPN app and ESPN.com

         

Orange Bowl Odds

Via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Spread: Georgia -7.5

Over/Under: 43.5

Money Line: Georgia (-320; bet $320 to win $100); Michigan (+250; bet $100 to win $250)

    

Preview

Michigan can't be counted out as a 7.5-point underdog.

The Wolverines won the last game in which they featured in the underdog role. They manhandled the Ohio State Buckeyes at home to earn the Big Ten East title. 

Michigan controlled most of its games through the interior, but Georgia has one of the best interior units in the country.

The Big Ten champion will not have an easy night running the football against a Bulldogs defense that ranks inside the top 10 in every major defensive stat category. Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and others form a mean front seven that has not allowed much to 12 of its 13 opponents. 

Georgia was broken open for 41 points by Alabama, but the same result is not expected in the Orange Bowl because of the talent gap in the passing game between the two teams. 

Cade McNamara threw for more than 250 yards in just three games and has a single 300-yard performance from the loss against the Michigan State Spartans. Georgia is most likely going to force him to hit the 250-yard threshold to beat it.

The 21-year-old's other issue is his turnovers against ranked opposition. He was picked off once by Michigan State, Ohio State and the Iowa Hawkeyes after throwing just a single interception in his first seven games. 

If Georgia slows down Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, Michigan will have no choice but to turn to McNamara. 

Georgia has a better secondary than most Big Ten teams, and only Ohio State could really compare to the five-star talent littered throughout the Bulldogs' defense. 

Georgia possesses the third-best passing defense in the FBS. It allowed 172.2 passing yards per game, while Michigan gave up over 20 yards more through the air per contest. 

If the passing defense matches the high level of the third-best rushing defense, Georgia would be in a great position to leave Miami with a place in the national championship.

Michigan will have a clear game plan on the ground, but if it can't break through the Bulldogs' front seven, it will become the fourth Big Ten team to suffer a national semifinal loss.

Prediction: Georgia 20, Michigan 10. 

          

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