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Dec 30, 2021

Orange Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Georgia vs. Michigan

Dec. 31, 2021
Dan Dobish
VI Betting Expert
VegasInsider.com

The No. 3 seed Georgia Bulldogs (12-1) and No. 2 seed Michigan Wolverines (12-1) square off at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Friday in the College Football Semifinal at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the game can be viewed on ESPN.

Score Prediction

Michigan 22, Georgia 18

Best Bets

Michigan +245 ML at Bet365

Michigan +7.5 (-110) at Bet365

Under 45.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Orange Bowl Predictions

Head coach Jim Harbaugh can't beat ranked teams. Harbaugh can't win the big one. Harbaugh isn't a big-game coach. He kicked down the door and his Wolverines dispelled all of that talk with one sound beating of the rival Ohio State Buckeyes on a snowy day in Ann Arbor on Nov. 27. So the Wolverines would surely have a letdown in the Big Ten Championship Game against Iowa, right? Well, you know what happened, a 42-3 curb-stomping of the Hawkeyes. The Wolverines racked up 211 rushing yards to 104 for the Hawkeyes, and 250 passing yards to 175 for Iowa, registering a conference title in its first-ever trip to the league championship game. Can Michigan take it one step further against an SEC powerhouse now? Perhaps nobody is playing better football than Michigan at the moment.

Georgia looked indestructible all season. The Dawgs rolled through the regular-season schedule with 12 teams up, and 12 teams down. The defense pitched three shutouts, and Georgia's D held opponents to a single-digit score on eight occasions. The defense is unreal, ranking in the Top 5 in nearly every category. UGA allowed just 254.4 total yards per game to rank second in the country, 172.2 passing yards per game to rank third, 82.2 rushing yards per game to rank fourth and just 9.5 PPG to post the top mark in the nation. But Alabama destroyed them in the SEC Championship Game, winning 41-24. Michigan's offense is just as dangerous, so the Bulldogs are going to have their hands full, and the loss in the SEC title game cost them an easier path to the title game.

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Orange Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: SEC vs. Big 10
  • Date: Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Venue: Hard Rock Stadium
  • Location: Miami Gardens, Florida
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET

Georgia Bulldogs Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 12-1
  • ATS: 8-5
  • O/U: 6-7

Georgia won the national championship in the Sugar Bowl in 1980 with a 17-10 victory over Notre Dame behind legendary coach Vince Dooley. There have been a few double-digit win seasons, a 13-win season under Mark Richt in 2002 which culminated in a 26-13 win in the Sugar Bowl over Florida State, and a CFP National Championship Game loss under Kirby Smart in 2017 to Alabama. Georgia has been knocking on the door for a while, but coming up just short. This UGA team has a 12-win season, and the defense has looked like an impenetrable wall. But Alabama put plenty on video on how to beat Georgia, and you know Michigan is using that as a blueprint to formulate its own game plan.

If the Bulldogs have a weakness, it's the pass game. QB Stetson Bennett is good, not close to great. He is going to have pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson (14 sacks) and David Ojabo (11 sacks) breathing down his neck, so he'll have to get the ball out on schedule and make decisions perhaps quicker than he has all season. We'll see how that goes. Alabama rushed for 115 yards while passing for 421 yards in that SEC title game win. Michigan will want to run the ball more, as that's their strong suit.

Georgia is 6-2 ATS in the past eight bowl appearances, while going 11-5 ATS in the past 16 neutral-site games, and 5-2 ATS in the past seven non-conference tilts. As far as the total is concerned, UGA is has cashed the UNDER in six of the past seven as a bowl favorite, while the UNDER is 7-2-2 in the past 11 neutral-site games.

Michigan Wolverines Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 12-1
  • ATS: 11-2
  • O/U: 7-6

Not only has Michigan won five straight games since its 37-33 collapse and loss against rival Michigan State in East Lansing back on Oct. 30, the Wolverines are also a perfect 5-0 ATS. The closest pass was a 21-17 win at Penn State, covering as 2.5-point favorites. The other four games were decided by 15 or more points. Michigan found tremendous success on the ground against Ohio State, rolling up 297 rushing yards, with just 190 passing yards needed while edging the Buckeyes 24-23 on first downs. The Wolverines have a one-two punch of Hassan Hawkins and Blake Corum looking to make big noise.

Hawkins rolled up 1,288 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns with 4.9 rushing yards per attempt, while Corum gobbled up 6.7 rushing yards per game to finish with 939 yards and 11 scores on the ground. If anybody is going to beat Georgia's rush defense, it's Michigan. The offensive line is total notch.

The Wolverines have cashed in five straight games overall, while going 4-1 ATS in the past five non-conference games. However, sticking in the back of everybody's mind is Michigan's recent stink in bowl games. One win against Ohio State, and a blowout over a marginal Iowa team isn't going to wash it all away. The Wolverines are 0-4 ATS in the past four bowl games, and 1-4 ATS in the past five neutral-site games as an underdog. But that was then, this is now.

The OVER has been the overwhelming trend for Michigan lately, and in recent bowls. The OVER is 7-2 in the past nine as an underdog, and 4-1 in the past five bowl games. The OVER is also 13-3 in the past 16 neutral-site games, and 8-1 in the past nine tries against SEC foes. But if they're going to beat Georgia, they are going to need their best defensive effort, similar to what they did to Iowa. Because I don't think Michigan can score enough points to win in a shootout. They must win a low-scoring game to be successful.

Inside the Stats - Georgia Bulldogs

  • Record: 12-1
  • VI Ranking: 4
  • Points Scored: 512
  • Points Allowed: 124
  • PS/G: 39.4
  • PA/G: 9.5

Inside the Stats - Michigan Wolverines

  • Record: 12-1
  • VI Ranking: 3
  • Points Scored: 490
  • Points Allowed: 209
  • PS/G: 37.7
  • PA/G: 16.1

Key Players to Watch

  • UGA: Stetson Bennett - QB (148/231, 2,325 yards, 24 TD, 7 INT)
  • UGA: Brock Bowers - TE (47 catches, 791 yards, 11 TD)
  • MICH: Hassan Haskins - RB (261 rushes, 1,288 yards, 20 TD)
  • MICH: Cade McNamara - QB (199/308 yards, 2,470 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT)

Orange Bowl Betting Conclusion

While the Cincinnati-Alabama matchup in the 4 vs. 1 game has the intrigue because of the Bearcats, and the Group of 5 angle, this is easily going to be the better game. Georgia looked unstoppable until the SEC Championship Game, when Alabama smashed them and knocked the Bulldogs down a few pegs.

Until late November, Michigan was a nice story, but no one outside of the mitten-shaped state expected the Wolverines to beat their rivals from Ohio State. It hadn't happened in a decade, and everyone was expecting the bottom to drop out. It didn't, and Michigan stayed hot, going to the Big Ten title game for the first time. They won the title for the first time, too, routing Iowa. But the Hawkeyes aren't the Bulldogs, and Michigan has to be more than perfect to get it done here. Michigan has the better run game, by far, and they have a nasty pass rush. Will Bennett have enough protection and time to punish a mediocre Michigan secondary? Can McNamara do a good enough job against a stingy UGA defense?

If Bennett struggles, UGA might not have a safety net. JT Daniels reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before Christmas, and he is unlikely to have been around the rest of the team, and therefore is rusty from a lack of practice, if he is even available at all.

Prior to Saban's arrival, I once saw Tom Brady in the 66th Orange Bowl edge Alabama in 2000, winning 35-34 in overtime over Shaun Alexander and the No. 5 Crimson Tide. That victory against an SEC team seemed unlikely at the time. But Michigan defied the odds. It will take an even bigger upset here. These teams have met twice, splitting the all-time series, although the last meeting was in 1965.

I think Alabama smashes Cincinnati in the other game, and Michigan upends Georgia to deny the south an all-SEC championship game. The Wolverines are hotter than anybody in the nation, and that one-two backfield punch is going to do enough to win a lower-scoring battle.

Orange Bowl Betting Trends

  • Georgia is 6-2 ATS in the past eight bowl games.
  • Georgia is 11-5 ATS in the past 16 neutral-site games.
  • Michigan is 5-0 ATS in the past five games overall.
  • Michigan is 4-1 ATS in the past five non-conference games.
  • Michigan is 0-4 ATS in the past four bowl games.
  • The UNDER is 7-2-2 in the past 11 neutral-site games.
  • The UNDER is 6-1 in the past seven bowls as a favorite.
  • The OVER is 8-1 in the past nine for Michigan vs. SEC.
  • The OVER is 7-2 in the past nine as an underdog for Michigan.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in the past five bowl games for Michigan.


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