On Friday, the No.3 Georgia Bulldogs (13-2) defeated the No.2 Michigan (12-2) Wolverines 34-11 to capture the Orange Bowl title and advance to the National Championship game where they’ll be playing their SEC rivals the No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday January 10th.
The Bulldogs opened up a 17-point lead over the Wolverines lead by their quarterback Stetson Bennett, who was the catalyst in the game threw for an astounding 307 yards to go along with three touchdowns and a wildly efficient 21 of 31 completions. It was clear from the moment the game began that the momentum was on the Bulldogs side when they first got the ball and went for 80 yards on seven plays to give them a 7-0 lead.
The Wolverines would then get a chance to try to score but would end up turning the ball over on downs in Georgia’s territory in which they would go for 59 yards on six plays to take a 14-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter after running back Kendall McIntosh threw a TD pass to Adonai Mitchell.
The game would only continue to get demoralizing for the Wolverines when Bennett threw a 57 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Burton with 1:38 to go in the half to give them that 17-0 lead. The Bulldogs had a nearly flawless game with the only miscue being when Georgia immediately got the ball back after an interception of Michigan’s Cade McNamara but an apparent miscommunication between coach Kirby Smart and Bennett led to Georgia running out the clock for the rest of the first half instead of trying to get more points. Bennett would also loft a 39 yard pass to running back James Cook with 11:11 left to go in the game to expand their lead to 31 points.
What was perplexing was how Michigan’s offensive line was rated as the best in college football and even won the Joe Moore Award for best line performance of the season, but, Georgia’s defense with top notch NFL prospects such as nose guard Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Dean, and many others in what is considered the most loaded defense in college football history stifling McNamara and their running game.
McNamara has been at his best in 2021 when he’s been able to play off of Hassan Haskins and one of the best rushing offenses in the country. But without a run game to scare the Georgia defense, Michigan’s offense was incapable of coming back. The Wolverines had a small window to get back into the game in the early part of the third quarter, but McNamara miscommunicated with one of his receivers and was picked off by Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick in the end zone.
Now college football fans will get another rematch of the two heavyweights in the SEC of Georgia vs Alabama. Last time these two teams met was on Dec.4 when Alabama defeated Georgia ,41-24, to capture the SEC title and the top seed in the College Football Playoffs. The rematch between the two teams is the first in the playoff era and just the second national title rematch since the BCS was put in place in 1998. The only other title game rematch in the BCS and playoff era came in January of 2012 when Alabama beat LSU for the national title after LSU beat the Crimson Tide in the regular season.
Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart will look to beat his rival Nick Saban for the first time after losing four in a row in which the Bulldogs led in all of their defeats, including double-digits in three of them.
It's the second time Alabama and Georgia will play in a CFP National Championship; the Tide won 26-23 in overtime in Atlanta at the end of the 2017 season. Georgia will try to win its first national championship since 1980 while Alabama will look to capture its seventh since the Saban era began in 2009 and back-to-back titles for the second time in his tenure (2011-12).