Georgia Wins Orange Bowl Over Michigan: Reaction, Analysis, 5 Thoughts

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  • Stetson Bennett
    American football quarterback

Georgia beat Michigan to win the Orange Bowl. Five thoughts and analysis of the game, and what it all means.

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Georgia beat Michigan 34-11: Orange Bowl 5 Things That Matter

Final Score: Georgia 34, Michigan 11
CFN Prediction: Georgia 30, Michigan 20
Line: Georgia -7.5, o/u: 45.5

5. Georgia returned to 2021 form

Oh were the post-SEC Championship narratives were rich. One rough loss to Alabama, and …

Georgia’s secondary was a weakness.

Georgia was exposed.

Georgia didn’t beat anyone who was all that amazing.

Georgia was playing the wrong quarterback.

Okay, so maybe that last one still sort of holds – more on that in a moment – but it was as if everyone had forgotten just how dominant this team was throughout the regular season.

The offense didn’t get a touchdown in the 10-3 opener against Clemson. No one else came even remotely close to touching this team up until Alabama pulled off the win, and even then the loss could partly be explained away that the Dawgs sort of played like it didn’t need the win – which it didn’t.

So was this a bad performance by Michigan? Yeah, sort of, but Georgia did that to Arkansas, and Florida, and Tennessee, and Kentucky, and everyone else on the slate except for that one team that’s coming up in a rematch a few days from now.

Oh, and …

Orange Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5; Georgia returned to 2021 form
4. Georgia had more talent. Duh.
3. Stetson Bennett was terrific
2. Nothing takes away from Michigan’s great season
1. Now Georgia gets its chance
5 Thoughts: Alabama 27-6 over Cincinnati

NEXT: Georgia had more talent. Duh.

4. Georgia had more talent. Duh.

This just isn’t all that hard.

Alabama had a ton more talent than Cincinnati, and it won the Cotton Bowl without breathing hard.

Georgia had a ton more talent than Michigan, and it won the Orange Bowl without breathing hard.

That’s not to say Cincinnati and Michigan don’t have guys who can play, but Georgia and Alabama has more of those guys who play a whole lot better.

Recruiting rankings might be a fat load of hoo-ha, but that’s only true if you’re pumping up just a few key players. When you get a gajillion four and five-star types, you’re going to get more depth and more big playmakers in a strength-in-numbers sort of way.

Duh.

It’s why there has yet to be a massive upset in the College Football Playoff era – no, Clemson walloping Alabama in Santa Clara doesn’t count, and neither does Ohio State’s win over Bama in the first year of the CFP era. Talent – when fully-focused and with time off to heal up and prepare – always comes though.

Now with that said, Georgia still has its NFL quarterback on the bench because …

Orange Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
3. Stetson Bennett was terrific
2. Nothing takes away from Michigan’s season
1. Now Georgia gets its chance
5 Thoughts: Alabama 27-6 over Cincinnati

NEXT: Stetson Bennett was terrific

3. Stetson Bennett was terrific

A lot of things can be true at once about Bennett.

Yes, he might a smart veteran who can take off and run. No, he’s not the high-end talent JT Daniels is.

Yes, Daniels would add more to the consistent downfield passing game. No, Daniels can’t run and Bennett is an outstanding athlete.

Yes, Stetson Bennett is about to lead his team in the national championship game. No, there’s no dogging the call to keep playing 13 over 18 as long as 13 is playing like that.

And that’s the other part of this. Bennett has been great this year because he was almost never under any real stress, at least on the field. Once pushed in the Alabama game, the mistakes followed.

20-of-30 for 313 yards and three touchdowns with no picks, and with 32 rushing yards on three carries. This time, though, he produced right out of the gate – this wasn’t only helped by knowing the defense would bail the offense out of any problems.

You want the deep plays? He threw a gorgeous ball to James Cook, dropped another one to Jermaine Burton, and was in total command of the attack throughout.

Was he helped by an offensive line that allowed just two pressures and no sacks? Yeah, but he worked his way out of jams with quick decisions and a few good runs.

No, Stetson Bennett isn’t JT Daniels, and he isn’t Bryce Young.

But Georgia might just be 60 minutes away from Daniels and Young not being Stetson Bennett with one more performance like that.

NEXT: Nothing takes away from Michigan’s great season

2. Nothing takes away from Michigan’s great season

Is was brought up late in the broadcast – and among others – whether or not this blowout loss mights sour the breakthrough season under Jim Harbaugh.

Of course not.

It’s the unfortunate aspect about a playoff world – and for half of the bowl teams. You end your season with a loss. It was going to be brutal for a team as good as 2021 Michigan no matter how it happened.

Michigan beat Wisconsin on the road. It beat Penn State on the road. It beat Iowa for a Big Ten Championship, and, of course, it beat Ohio State.

Just because Michigan wasn’t Georgia or Alabama doesn’t mean it wasn’t amazing.

It was fun, it was exciting, and it got the base going again. The fans showed up in Miami, and they’re going to be ready for Harbaugh to keep doing this.

As he said, this is just the start – if he doesn’t go off to the NFL.

This is the year Harbaugh showed it’s possible to win big things at Michigan. This loss didn’t diminish that.

Orange Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5; Georgia returned to 2021 form
4. Georgia had more talent. Duh.
3. Stetson Bennett was terrific
1. Now Georgia gets its chance
5 Thoughts: Alabama 27-6 over Cincinnati

NEXT: Now Georgia gets its chance

1. Now Georgia gets its chance

Okay, Georgia. You want to exorcise the demon? Really?

You really wanted Alabama more than Cincinnati. Cool. Here you go.

Bama screwed up Georgia’s shot at a perfect 2021 season.

Bama rolled by Georgia last year.

Alabama pulled off an epic rally to beat Georgia in the 2018 SEC Championship, came up with a special finish to win the 2017 national title, won in a blowout in 2015, hung on for dear life in the 2012 SEC Championship, and won by double-digits in 2008.

Most of the Bulldog players don’t know or care about the entire recent history of futility, but it’s a thing. The Alabama football program is living rent free in Georgia head.

It’s not just that Georgia gets a chance to make amends for the earlier loss. It’s that Michigan was but a mere speed bump. A minor annoyance. A step to get back the respect of the college football world.

There was no Gatorade bath for Kirby Smart – by his command.

There were no massive celebrations, and there was almost no talk of the opponent just vanquished or the game just played.

Everything was with one eye on preparing for Alabama.

Now we get to see which Georgia was for real in 2021.

Orange Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5; Georgia returned to 2021 form
4. Georgia had more talent. Duh.
3. Stetson Bennett was terrific
2. Nothing takes away from Michigan’s great season
1. Now Georgia gets its chance
5 Thoughts: Alabama 27-6 over Cincinnati