Why Michigan Will Win The Capital One Orange Bowl
Michigan is going to do what it does – run, try to control the game on the lines – but there might be a bit more of a downfield element to the offense.
The running game pounded on Ohio State for close to 300 yards, and then it ran for 211 yards against Iowa to finish as the Big Ten’s No. 1 team on the ground. It all starts with an O line that doesn’t get a whole lot of credit, but doesn’t allow anything in the backfield and has been the difference between a good season and being here.
In this, though, the goal will be to test a Georgia secondary that was solid throughout the year and is loaded with talent, but gave up 332 yards to Tennessee and got ripped up by Alabama’s Bryce Young for 421 yards.
The Michigan combination of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum – who should be past an ankle injury – combined for close to 2,200 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, but Georgia’s run defense is a big, big problem.
QB Cade McNamara doesn’t take a whole lot of chances, and he averaged eight yards per throw with the ability spread it around a bit and get his guys the ball on the move.
On the defensive side, Michigan has been good enough against the run, but it changes games with the pressure from the front. The bulk sack and tackle for loss numbers aren’t there, but it’s a timely bunch that’s great on third downs.
Why Georgia Will Win The Capital One Orange Bowl
Yeah, the Georgia defense is still really, really good.
It had a rough day against Alabama, but it’s not right to suggest that the D was exposed in any way – that was Alabama going Alabama and Bryce Young putting together a Heisman-winning performance.
Forget about running on this group, at least enough to make a huge difference. The key for Michigan will be whether or not it can generate just enough of a push to allow the passing game to work, but even then that’s asking a lot.
Alabama averaged 4.4 yards per carry and ran for 115 yards against the Dawgs. No one averaged more, and Florida – whose 161 yards were the most allowed by Georgia – was the only other team to average more than four yards per pop.
On the other side, the offense is all about spreading it around. QB Stetson Bennett threw two picks against Alabama, but he also winged it around for 340 yards and three touchdowns.
Star WR George Pickens eased his way back into the mix after a knee injury, and now he’s had another month off to get right. TE Brock Bowers is special, and several wide receiver parts get involved in the mix.
In what should be a relatively close, tight battle, mistakes are going to matter. The Michigan defense might be amazing, but it’s not taking the ball away – just four turnovers in the last five games without a multiple takeaway game since the Michigan State loss back in October.
As long as Bennett is careful and the offense is conservative, the defense should be able to take care of the rest.