The Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium is part of the College Football Playoff semifinals this year. Winners take their talents to Indianapolis for the College Football Playoff championship game.
The Michigan Wolverines entered the game ranked No. 2 overall with a 12-2 record having their rivalry win over the Ohio State Buckeyes and winning the Big Ten on their resume.
Their opponent, the Georgia Bulldogs, were ranked No. 3 overall with a 13-1 record and their lone loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game.
Enough of the build-up. It was a one-sided matchup.
The Bulldogs took a 27-3 halftime lead into the locker room, cruising to a 34-11 win over the Wolverines, setting up the much anticipated and predicted rematch in the championship game versus the Crimson Tide.
Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett finished 20 of 30 for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bulldogs’ offense finished with 521 total yards. An offense that looked highly improved from their last loss from the hand of the Crimson Tide.
Bulldogs had seven offensive players helping with the rushing attack combining for 190 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs were the first team to score on the first five drives in the eight-year history of a College Football Playoff game.
The Bulldogs defense sacked the opposing quarterback four times.
Bennett captured the game’s offensive MVP by throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns, while cornerback Derion Kendrick was named defensive MVP after snagging a pair of interceptions.
The Wolverines captured their first Big Ten title since 2004. They were riding on the wave of a confident season entering the game. But they met their match in the opening half.
Wolverines committed a season-high three turnovers in the game, adding fuel to the fire they could not put out. They had 11 total entering the game.
The Wolverines starting quarterback Cade McNamara completed 11 of 19 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions. The offensive line faced the Bulldogs’ defensive front and was met with issues protecting their quarterback. Tailbacks Hassan Haskins, Blake Corum, and Donovan Edwards, combined for 68 yards on 16 carries in their lowest output of the season.
The Wolverines trailed by as many as 31 points in the semifinal.
Georgia’s offense looked much improved from the 24 points against Alabama. Bennett did not appear to be starting quarterback who threw two interceptions against Alabama.
The former walk-on completed his first nine passes against Michigan on the way to 307 yards and showed more than enough arm strength on a 53-yard bomb to James Cook in the second quarter.
Michigan can use this season to build on for the next. Playing in the Orange Bowl showed that closing the gap on Ohio State is one thing, but there is no turning back. Now the goal is raising the team’s success to defeat a Bulldogs caliber team.
The beat goes on.
The Bulldogs will face Alabama for the second time in the CFP title game. The Bulldogs have lost seven straight overall meetings against the Tide, including the 2017 CFP championship in overtime.
The Wolverines open the 2022 season at home against Colorado State.