Miami Gardens, fl. – On New Year’s Day in the Orange Cup, No. 3 Georgia beat Michigan 34-11, setting the 2021 SEC Championship game against No. 1 Alabama in the 2022 College Football Playoffs National Championship. The Bulldogs and the Crimson Tight will meet in the title match for the second time in the last five years.
Georgia marched 80 yards in the first possession of the game and never stopped in the opening 30 minutes, making CFP proud to be the first team in history to score points in its top five possessions. While this did not create a fantastic game, it did allow at least some neutral parties to get their holiday plans in place.
After Georgia took a 7-0 lead, the Michigan attack responded well and entered the UGA frontier. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a pass sent down from Kate McNamara to Eric All-fourth went missing at the fingertips of All, resulting in a drop in revenue. After a few plays, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh left with his hand on a sweepstakes and surprised everyone at Hard Rock Stadium.
From there, the trail continued. Michigan had its moments, but shifted the ball into four straight possessions (two interceptions, one stumble and one down) in the second and third quarters to instantly destroy any momentum it was trying to build. Georgia did not waste its chances and were more like the team we saw in the regular season than they were against Alabama in the SEC title game a few weeks ago.
Earlier on Friday, Bama defeated No. 4 Cincinnati 27-6 in the 2021 Cotton Cup semifinals.
It forms a rematch of the 2018 CFP National Championship, with Tide winning 26-23 in extra time after the second-half comeback. Hopefully this year’s game will be more exciting than the semi – finals or at least exciting.
Here are five takeaways from Georgia’s dominance in Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
1. Georgia needed this version of the Bennett
Bennett is not the most popular NFL draft opportunity. In fact, I would be shocked if he ever took an NFL photo. The problem is, people know he’s not an NFL QB, and immediately write him off as the weak point of Georgia’s crime. However, Bennett is the same player who finished fourth nationally in qualification. Of course, his deep blows would clear the clouds and lead to rain. It doesn’t work in the NFL, but at the college level it works well for him!
Bennett finished the night with 307 yards, and three others used his legs to buy time and extend the drives.
In Georgia’s defeat to Alabama, Docs was seen chasing backwards. Bennett struggled in that situation. He threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but he was knocked out twice. That turnover has shattered Georgia’s hopes of winning the game, but now he has a chance to reclaim himself in the title game remake.
2. It’s time for Nakobe teen praise
The downside of being awesome at everyone on the Georgia defense is that sometimes fantastic players get lost in all of that awesomeness. There was a lot of talk all season about how Jordan Davis should be a Heisman Trophy finalist, and when I loved Jordan Davis, I always thought the talk was fun because he was not even the best player on the Georgia defense. That title belongs to Nakobe Dean, and all of the reasons for that were on display in Miami.
Dean finished the night with seven tackles (five singles), an excuse and a compelling stumble, as he flew across the field and seemed to get to where the Michigan players wanted to reach before they even knew they wanted to be there. He was an absolute delight in watching the game.
3. Terrible night, fantastic season for Michigan
The recent pro is a monster. Just because we are the most intelligent creature on earth does not mean that we have the ability to remember anything that happened 20 minutes ago. Georgia’s defense dominated throughout the year, but then fought against Alabama, so suddenly it stinks and was exaggerated by anyone who has ever admired it. We can’t even entertain the thought that it was a bad day against a great team.
People will get the same feeling about Michigan after Friday night. It’s been a scary night for the Wolverines, but despite the terrible taste in Michigan’s mouth, the 2021 campaign is one for creating the future. The Wolverines dominated throughout the year – when they trailed 7-0 at the start of the game, which was the biggest deficit they had ever faced – and finally managed to knock the Ohio State Monkey off their backs and knock down the Buckeyes. For the first time since 2011. They won their first Big Ten title since 2004. They won 12 games in a season for the first time since 1997 when they last won the national title. Aidan Hutchinson was a Heisman finalist. It was an incredible season.
It had a terrible ending and it was okay. Not every story ends up getting everyone what they want, but at least for the Michigan world it has proven it can go all the way to the playoffs. Before the start of the year, many people – including some in Ann Arbor – questioned whether the project would ever reach a high point.
4. Fights for Big Ten teams continue (except for Ohio State)
Michigan is the third Big Ten team to reach the college football playoffs in its short history of merging with Ohio State and Michigan State. Jake Moody’s 36-yard field goal rose majestically in the second quarter. That is not great comfort. Two Big Ten schools in Midton State are now out 72-11 in two semifinals against SEC opponents. Michigan State lost 38-0 to Alabama in the 2015 Cotton Cup.
5. Are you sure you want an extended playoff?
Well, this is not really about one of these teams, but after an easy win over Alabama Cincinnati, Georgia then attacked Michigan. While expanding the playoffs in a year has been a hotly debated topic, the games are meant to be a reminder that expanding it is unlikely to change much. Of course, we may regret it a couple of times – it’s fun! – But if we learn anything from the CFP era, there are rarely more than two elite teams in any one season.
Expanding the playoff does not do much to change it, instead, it may only give us more blowouts.