Georgia Dominates Michigan 34-11 In CFP Semifinal At Orange Bowl
The Georgia Bulldogs got off to a fast start and dominated the Michigan Wolverines 34-11 in the second College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl.
Neither of the semifinal games were very competitive, but Georgia's win against Michigan was a blow out from the beginning. The Big 10 champion Wolverines fell behind early and failed to mount a comeback against a very stout Bulldogs defense.
Georgia got off to an incredible start on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs started on offense and quarterback Stetson Bennett completed all four of his passes for 67 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown to tight end Brock Bowers. Bowers was a problem for the Wolverines defense early with three catches on the first drive, and Georgia took a 7-0 lead.
Michigan drove into Bulldogs territory on their opening drive, but they went for it on fourth-and-four at the Georgia 41 and turned it over on downs with an incompletion.
The Bulldogs quickly responded with another touchdown drive. They went 59 yards in six plays, using a trick play with a running back pass to a wide open receiver to stretch their early lead to 14-0.
On their second possession, Michigan gained a first down, but a sack by the Bulldogs defense wrecked the drive. The Wolverines punted.
Georgia's offense converted a pair of third downs, but they were held to a 43-yard field goal attempt which they hit to go up 17-0 early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs completely jumped on Michigan in the Orange Bowl.
The Wolverines needed a response after digging a three-possession hole. Their offense provided that with a nice nine-play drive into the red zone, highlighted by a 42-yard completion between quarterback Cade McNamara and wide receiver Roman Wilson. Once reaching the 19, McNamara was sacked again, but the Wolverines broke their scoreless streak with a 36-yard field goal to make it 17-3.
Michigan's defense was in position to answer the score with a three-and-out, but, on third-and-three, Bennett hit running back James Cook for a huge 53-yard gain into the red zone. They settled for a 28-yard field goal to stretch the lead back out to 17 points at 20-3. It marked the first time since 2011 that Michigan had given up points on each of their opponents first four possessions in a bowl game.
The Wolverines went three-and-out and punted after McNamara was chased down from behind on third down. Michigan's high-flying offense was held in check throughout the first half.
Georgia's offense continued flexing their big-play ability on their fifth drive of the game. This time, Bennett completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jermaine Burton. A stunned Michigan team was down 27-3 late in the first half.
On the first play of Michigan's next possession, Georgia defensive back Derion Kendrick intercepted a ball from McNamara. The clock ran out on the Bulldogs final drive of the first half, but they went into the break with a huge 24-point lead.
Georgia outgained Michigan in first half total yards 330-101. Bennett completed 16 of his 22 passing attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines second-team All-American running back Hassan Haskins was held silent by the Bulldogs defense, only rushing for 13 yards on five carries in the first half.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Georgia became the first team to score on each of its opening five possessions in a College Football Playoff game.
Michigan started the second half with the ball and used a pair of chunk plays to spark a nice drive. After Georgia's defensive front picked up their fourth sack, McNamara completed a 21-yard pass to tight end Erick All and Haskins ran for 19 yards into Bulldogs territory.
Another connection between McNamara and All converted a third down into the red zone. However, on a miscommunication with his intended receiver, McNamara threw his second interception of the game in the end zone, ending a promising drive without any points. It was another huge play for Kendrick and Georgia's defense.
Finally, Michigan's defense forced a punt after the Bulldogs went three-and-out on their first offensive drive of the third quarter. Three plays into their next drive, the Wolverines gave away their third turnover of the night when running back Blake Corum fumbled, and Georgia's defense recovered the ball. It marked the first time all season that Michigan's offense had three turnovers in the same game.
The Bulldogs drove deep into Michigan territory off of the fumble, but, thanks to penalties, they were forced to attempt a 45-yard field goal that they missed. The margin stayed at three possessions late in the third quarter.
Michigan's offense passed midfield with backup quarterback J. J. McCarthy's 25-yard pass to All. However, McCarthy's pass on fourth-and-six to start the final quarter at Georgia's 41 fell incomplete, and the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs.
Following the turnover, Georgia went on a six-play, 59-yard touchdown drive where Bennett and Cook connected for a 39-yard touchdown reception.
A 43-yard pass from McCarthy brought Michigan to the Georgia eight. However, their 15-play, 69-yard drive ended in their third turnover on downs.
Following a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, the Wolverines scored their first touchdown of the game. McCarthy completed a 35-yard touchdown to Andrel Anthony, and the two point conversion was successful. The late score made it 34-11 with four minutes remaining.
Georgia ran out the clock and won the Orange Bowl 34-11 to set up a rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game.
This game was a beatdown statistically. Georgia out-gained Michigan 518-321 in total yards, but the biggest difference was turnovers. The Wolverines were 0-3 on fourth down and had two interceptions and a fumble in the game, while the Bulldogs took care of the ball.
On Dec. 4, Alabama beat Georgia 41-24 to hand the Bulldogs their only loss in 2021. The two best teams in college football this year will play again on Monday, January 10 at 7:00 p.m.