Michigan vs. Georgia: Final thoughts and prediction for Orange Bowl semifinal
Well, Michigan and Georgia kick off in just a few hours. So what’s it going to be for the No. 2 Wolverines and No. 3 Bulldogs during the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami?
For Michigan, the status of star safety Daxton Hill remains the elephant in the room. On Thursday, coach Jim Harbaugh said Hill — a projected first-rounder or second-rounder in the NFL Draft — was essentially a game-time decision. Harbaugh rarely offers any type of clarity on injuries, so his comments weren’t a surprise in the least bit.
Here’s a final prediction: We’ll find out if Hill plays during UM’s on-field warm-ups, right? OK, sorry for being so vague. It’s really 50/50 at this point. There are several rumors floating around in regard to Hill’s status, but here’s a fact: He was supposed to appear Dec. 22 during Michigan’s final media availability in Ann Arbor; however, he canceled via text message to a Wolverines athletic staff member. “Something came up,” was the explanation.
Get ready for what should be the best bowl game of the year, at least so far. Michigan vs. Georgia should be quite the way to end the calendar year. With that said, here are some final thoughts and predictions.
Cade goes big
More on this at the bottom, but let’s start with QB Cade McNamara’s projected stats, based on what he’s done against top teams thus far: He threw for a career-high 383 yards on a career-high 44 pass attempts against Michigan State; he’s also thrown at least 20 times during his last 6 games.
So, with that taken into account, expect McNamara to throw a bit vs. Georgia. He won’t light up the Bulldogs for 383 yards, but he should come through with about 220 yards. It’ll be a balanced attack, due to a strong run game — but make no mistake, WRs such as Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson and Daylen Baldwin, among others, should see plenty of action tonight against the Bulldogs.
Let’s say somewhere around 20-for-30, 225 yards and 2 TDs. That sounds about right.
Michigan will score 2 rushing TDs
Hassan Haskins has been on a tear all season and Blake Corum is expected to be 100 percent — so that means Michigan will definitely pick up some yardage via the ground game. Georgia only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns all season, but the Wolverines’ duo combined for 31 (Haskins 20, Corum 11).
Something will have to give tonight, and it’s difficult to predict UM’s RBs being stalled for too long. Georgia might not give up a season-total 3 rushing touchdowns to the Wolverines, but it’ll give up at least a pair because Haskins and Corum will each reach pay dirt in Miami — you can pretty much count on that.
At least two tricks
It’s bowl season. Anything goes.
And Michigan has flea-flickers and reverses up its sleeve, just waiting to unleash them on the Bulldogs. The Wolverines are one of the faster teams that Georgia will have faced this year. Haskins is a pro at the flick back to the QB, and Wilson and Johnson can both fly up the sidelines in preparation for the deep ball. It’s happened at least twice this year, and one of them resulted in a touchdown.
Georgia’s defense won’t rattle Cade
Yeah, yeah — it’s one of the best defenses in college football during the past 10 years. Yeah, it’s true that Michigan struggled against twists and stunts — Georgia’s area of expertise — this past season. But none of that matters. Many feel as if the Bulldogs will get at McNamara, but he’s only been sacked 5 or 6 times this season. And he’s only thrown 4 picks.
With Michigan’s O-line — the best in the country — and running game, Georgia will be on high-alert all night in Miami. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to shut down one of the best rushing teams in the nation.
At the time of this writing, SEC teams were 0-4 in bowl games this year. Harbaugh is 1-4 against SEC teams in bowls. So could this be Michigan’s year? There are signs pointing toward that very thought.
Who’s going to win?
Michigan seems like a Team of Destiny, doesn’t it? There haven’t been any confirmed COVID issues — such was the case for UGA backup QB JT Daniels — and the Wolverines have plenty of star power to topple the Bulldogs.
Defensive, hard-hitting — the Orange Bowl should be a fantastic display of two of the best in college football.
Final score: Michigan 28, Georgia 21