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A Big Ten title win over Ohio State has built up Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines as a legitimate contender in the College Football Playoff picture.
Now set to face off against Kirby Smart’s Georgia teams on Friday for the CFP semifinal, some are looking at Michigan’s prospects to overcome the Bulldogs as a true toss-up — despite the Bulldogs’ formidable status all season.
OutKick’s Senior SEC Writer Trey Wallace joined OutKick 360 on the eve of the Orange Bowl to discuss whether the Wolverines’ hype is a trend of the moment or a legitimate threat to defeat Georgia.
“The way it’s a toss-up game is if Michigan gets after Stetson Bennett and they force him into problems causing Georgia to go to the bench and pull in JT Daniels,” Wallace noted.
Acknowledging Michigan’s defense as a potential obstacle, Trey mentioned that a player like Aidan Hutchinson on the Wolverines’ D-line can come in and knock quarterback Stetson Bennett off a rhythm. Though the Georgia offensive staff has been fully confident in their play-maker.
“That’s where it can get interesting to me because if Hutchinson comes off that line of scrimmage and he’s able to get after the quarterback, that’s where everything comes to full light,” Trey said. “Because the coaches have been praising [Bennett] all week. [Todd] Monken said he’s been making national championship-type plays all season long.”
Even with Michigan’s ascending forecasts at the No. 2 spot, Trey believes that the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will play akin to the top-seeded squad from the regular season — shaking off the 41-24 loss to the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game.
“But you look at this thing, I kinda agree where you wonder if it’s fools gold that Michigan beat the hell out of Ohio State and rushed for 232 yards? Okay, maybe? But when you look at the way Georgia played against Alabama when they had to pass the football.
“Kirby Smart comes out post-game and says look this was our game plan the whole time. We weren’t trying to establish something on the ground. The way Georgia beats up on Michigan tomorrow is if they get Zamir White and James Cook involved, maybe Kendall Milton. And they just rush the ball down Michigan’s throat. And keep the ball away, and Stetson Bennett hits a couple of play-action passes down the field. Georgia’s all of a sudden up 17-to-nothing, and Jordan Davis along the defensive line is coming up and putting pressure on Cade McNamara.”
Trey called out Michigan’s quarterback as another X-factor for a Michigan win.
“My biggest thing is .. how does Georgia contain Cade McNamara at times? We’ve seen where you look at that SEC title game where Bryce Young got outside the pocket at times and was able to make plays down the field. … I’m hoping it’s a good game. I think Georgia should come out and win this just based on their offensive line and rushing attack. Man, we’ve seen crazier things happen.”
Even if the game is Georgia’s to lose, Trey isn’t dismissing the Wolverines’ shot. “They did beat up on Ohio State in the Big Ten title game by rushing the football.”
The Capital One Orange Bowl is scheduled for Friday (Dec. 31) at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Join OutKick and OutKick VIP to receive the latest news from our SEC Senior Writers.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela