In the nightcap of the semifinal round of the college football playoffs, No. 3 Georgia will look to regroup after convincingly losing the SEC championship to Alabama. Can No. 2 Michigan’s dream season knock off the Bulldogs?
Alabama beating the spread against Georgia was a plausible argument for the SEC title game but waxing the Bulldogs by 17 points against what was supposed to be one the greatest college football defenses of all time! That was a shocker!
Michigan finally beat Ohio State and did so in convincing fashion. Those who expected a letdown by the Wolverines in the Big Ten title tilt were amazed that Iowa was waxed 42-3. This sets up a potentially very entertaining contest between the two best conferences in the sport.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Michigan Wolverines
Friday, December 31, 2021 – 7:00 PM EST at Hard Rock Stadium
Georgia Has to Regain Confidence Early
Head coach Kirby Smart after the Bama beat down talked about his team not playing their game and picking themselves up to show their skill and resolve. Those of us who watched the game saw something different.
Before the season, the top Georgia concern was their secondary. As it turns out, Smart’s defense did not face many quality quarterbacks, and the ones they did, the Bulldogs’ defensive front seven largely overwhelmed their opponents’ offensive line. Once Georgia’s defense faced an offensive line that could keep them out and taking on what turned out to be the best throwing QB in the country with elite receivers, the secondary was torched.
Does Michigan present such a scenario? No, but the Wolverines undoubtedly will test the Dawgs’ last line of defense and the O-Line seems like it could hold up fairly well against Smart’s defense.
On offense, the Bulldogs attached their wagon to QB Stetson Bennett and when there was little adversity, no problems. Though Bennett had 340 yards passing versus the Tide, he also had two interceptions and was sacked three times.
Georgia needs to come out the first quarter feeling good with a lead and not have people wanting backup quarterback JT Daniels warming up.
Michigan Has to Make Georgia Uncomfortable
Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have six or more future NFL defensive players like Georgia and his offensive personnel probably isn’t as good. But what Harbaugh does have is a group that believes they can play with anyone in the country and they destroyed market expectations at 11-2 ATS this season.
The battle of Michigan’s No. 9 running game facing the Bulldogs No. 3 run defense would alone be worth watching. That will happen, yet, we are hard-pressed to believe that Harbaugh’s aggressive new coaching staff won’t try and attack the Dawgs secondary. They might not take as many deep shots as Alabama did, however, look for them to send somebody as a deep threat decoy and attack in the 15-20 yard range. If this is successful the Wolverines will go back to run and most likely have success.
Michigan’s defense does not get the accolades of Georgia’s. The Bulldogs are better across the board, but not by as much as one would think. In yards per point, Georgia was 1st nationally, with the Wolverines 5th.
Their key is winning first down repeatedly and making Bennett a throwing quarterback. If this happens, Michigan’s confidence will soar and their opponent will have doubts.
Who Covers the Spreads
For college football picks, if both teams play their best, Georgia by 10 points sounds accurate. However, we are not entirely sure that will happen and a defensive game is likely if not probable.
Georgia faced pressure in their last contest and if they face it again, they may not again react positively. If you go back to last year’s Peach Bowl, Smart’s team trailed Cincinnati 21-10 going into the fourth quarter before rallying to win.
If this conflict is close going into the middle of the second quarter, this looks like a touchdown or closer game, and with that, Michigan covers and comes up just short.
NCAAF Pick: Michigan +7.5 (-110) at BetMGM