Saturday, January 29, 2022

Orange Bowl 2021: Michigan vs. Georgia live stream, watch online, TV channel, kickoff time, prediction, odds

The second of Friday’s two College Football Playoff semifinal games pits No. 2 Michigan against No. 3 Georgia in the first meeting between the two college football powers since 1965. It marks the Wolverines’ first CFP appearance and just the second for Georgia, which reached the national championship game following the 2017 season before losing to Alabama in the title contest.

Behind a dominant defense, the Bulldogs started 12-0 and spent most of the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and CFP rankings. But after a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, there are questions about whether this Georgia team is truly elite or if it just looked that way during a relatively easy regular-season schedule. 

Unlike Georgia, Michigan suffered a loss against Michigan State in the regular season. But the Wolverines enter the CFP having played arguably their best football of the season in their two most-recent games, which were a 42-27 win over rival Ohio State to win the Big Ten East and a 42-3 win over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

In some ways, these teams mirror each other as both rely on stout defense and efficient but unspectacular offense. Both are evidence that an explosive passing game isn’t the only way to college football‘s biggest stage.

Michigan vs. Georgia: Need to know

Georgia’s run defense: Michigan thrives on its ability to run the ball, but Georgia suffocates opponents by stopping the run. Michigan’s Hassan Haskins ran for 169 yards and five touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry on 28 attempts against Ohio State. Iowa’s vaunted defense did a decent job of bottling up Haskins, but the Wolverines still managed to run for 211 yards and four touchdowns as a team against the Hawkeyes. It was the first time Iowa allowed 200 yards rushing this season. It was an impressive performance, but Georgia’s defense is statistically better than Iowa’s. The Bulldogs are allowing just 2.6 yards per rush attempt and just 81.7 yards rushing per game. Michigan ranks 12th nationally in yards per carry at 5.32. Two teams that Georgia has played, Kentucky and Florida, are among the 11 teams ahead of the Bulldogs in that category, and they had mixed results. UK finished with just 51 yards rushing against Georgia, but Florida did amass 161 yards on the ground.

Red zone battle: Georgia ranks first nationally in red zone defense while Michigan ranks seventh in red zone offense. Only five times on 64 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line have the Wolverines come away without any points. But they will have their work cut out for them if they reach the red zone against Georgia. Opponents have reached the red zone just 25 times against Georgia this season, and the Bulldogs have held them without points on 10 occasions. Just eight times has UGA allowed a touchdown to opponents on trips to the red zone.

Georgia’s QB option: After testing positive for COVID-19 this month, Georgia’s backup quarterback JT Daniels is back with the team and providing at least some element of mystery at the position. While Stetson Bennett has started 10 games at quarterback this season and figures to start again, Daniels is an accomplished player in his own right who gives Georgia another option if the offense sputters. The former five-star prospect and USC transfer has at least forced Michigan’s defense to prepare for the possibility of facing a more pocket-oriented passer than Bennett, who is mobile and comfortable throwing on the run.

How to watch Orange Bowl live

Game: Orange Bowl

: Friday, Dec. 31 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, Florida

TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Orange Bowl prediction, picks

Featured Game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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Alabama exposed some flaws on the back end of Georgia’s defense, but the Crimson Tide did so with the help of a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in Bryce Young and a couple of star receivers in Jameson Williams and John Metchie. Michigan won’t be able to challenge the Bulldogs on the perimeter in the same way, and UGA’s elite front seven should be able to contain the Wolverines’ ground game. Georgia’s offense can still reach a higher gear and it should have enough innovation left in the tank to find the end zone against a stingy Michigan defense. Prediction: Georgia (-6.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.

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