Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal: Michigan vs Georgia Battle for Spot in Title Game

Photo Credit: Adrian Beecher/SkyBoat

Welcome to the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl, where two teams square off coming off vastly different trajectories.

One team is a conference champion, and the other was the best team in the regular season and the only non-conference champion in the Playoff. One team has been here before until Alabama showed them the door at the 2018 Championship game. The other was a perceived underdog to start the season and the first team to get into the Playoff without being ranked to start the season.

When the Bulldogs and Wolverines square off on New Year’s Eve at Hard Rock Stadium, it will be, in many ways, the biggest game in each school’s history.

For Big Blue, it’s been all about trusting the process since Head Coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in December 2014 to his alma mater. After signing a four-year extension in January of 2021, Harbaugh delivered. After losing to Michigan State on the road, the Wolverines rallied back with wins over Indiana, Penn State, and Maryland. They were set up with a defacto Playoff quarterfinal and Big Ten semifinal game against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes kept it close in the first half and trailed by just one. However, in the second half, Michigan turned on the afterburners and cruised to a 42-27 win over OSU to end an eight-game losing streak, earning a spot in the Big Ten title game.

Michigan wasted no time in the title game and dominated Iowa in every way possible. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Hawkeyes added their lone score, a 22-yard field goal. Big Blue would finish with 28 unanswered points to seal a 42-3 win and their first trip to the Playoff.

Georgia’s story is a little different. They were the clear-cut dominant team during the regular season. They shut out three opponents and only allowed six of their 12 foes into the endzone in the regular season.

Then came the SEC Championship Game, where they looked unfolded by the Crimson Tide. The 41-24 loss was less than impressive, but it didn’t do anything to their Playoff hopes. The loss slated them with a matchup against Michigan in Miami in the Orange Bowl.

That could pose the question, what did the Dawgs have to play for in the matchup? Other than a conference championship, eliminating Alabama, and risking injury to a team already in the Playoff?

In any event, it brings us to now.

It’s a chance to keep the “buzz” build-up going, as Wolverines head coach Harbaugh explained in Thursday’s head coaches presser.

“Yeah, I feel like the buzz — created some new buzz with this 2021 team. Yeah, let’s face it, it had died down a little bit, and I do feel like our guys have created some new buzz, and it’s been a good thing.”

The two coaches also expressed the respect they have for each other’s programs, with Georgia’s Kirby Smart stating, “Our guys are excited. We’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Harbaugh and his team. They’ve always played a physical brand of football and our guys are looking forward to that opportunity to go out and play. It’s really what you work all year for is to get this opportunity on this grand stage, and our guys are excited for this opportunity.”

With all the talk and speculation concluding, there’s only one thing left to do. It’s New Year’s Eve with 60 minutes of football for the rest of their lives. Neither team has a golden CFP trophy on their campus. Both have overcome adversity, Covid, and now lineup with a chance at their place in the history books.

Kickoff is set for just after 7:30 pm eastern at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

It’s win or go home and wondering what could have been. While the victor will head to Indianapolis for a shot at the national title.

Written by Adrian Beecher

Share This Story:

Related Content