The College Football Playoff semifinals have been set, and arguably the more alluring of the two will take place in the Orange Bowl.
Michigan and Georgia enter bowl season looking to break through for the programs’ first national titles since 1997 and 1980, respectively. Both teams have been starved of success on that ultimate stage, though they have come to face each other in completely different paths.
The Bulldogs have enjoyed considerably more success than their maize-and-blue counterparts, winning the SEC championship as recently as 2017 and making the conference title game in 2018 and 2021. It has gone 6-2 in its last six New Year’s bowl games (including what is now called the Peach Bowl in 2006) since 2000. The Bulldogs have also been on the national championship game stage, losing to No. 4 Alabama in the 2018 CFP championship game in heartbreaking fashion.
Would Bulldogs fans prefer that heartbreak compared to the dearth of big games under Michigan in recent years? The Wolverines won their first Big Ten title this season since being named co-champions in 2004 alongside Iowa. They beat their biggest rivals this season, Ohio State, for the first time since 2011. That was the last time Michigan won a New Year’s bowl as well, when it beat Virginia Tech in the 2012 Sugar Bowl 23-20. Their last New Year’s bowl victory before that? A 35-34 overtime victory over Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl.
Needless to say, these teams will not be lacking in motivation heading into this Orange Bowl matchup. Here’s how you can watch these vaunted programs take out their frustrations against each other:
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When is the Orange Bowl 2021?
- Date: Dec. 31
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV broadcast: ESPN
- Location: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
The 2021 Orange Bowl, one of two College Football Playoff semifinal games this season, will kick off on Friday, Dec. 31 (the exact time for which has yet to be determined). The winner of this year’s Orange Bowl will advance to the national championship game, where it will take on the winner of the Cotton Bowl between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati. The national championship game will take place at 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10.
Who plays in the Orange Bowl 2021?
The 2021 Orange Bowl will feature 2-seed Michigan (12-1) and 3-seed Georgia (12-1). The Wolverines earned their right to play in the Orange Bowl after beating No. 2 Ohio State in Week 13 and No. 13 Iowa during conference championship weekend, respectively. The Bulldogs lost their SEC championship matchup to then-No. 3 Alabama, becoming the first team in the playoff era to lose on the final weekend and still make the top four teams. Their season-long dominance earned them the right to make the playoff, despite that defeat.
MORE: Who are the top four teams in final CFP poll of 2021?
What to know about Michigan vs. Georgia
Two of college football’s best defenses will face off in Hard Rock Stadium on Dec. 31. Georgia’s has been lauded as a generational unit all year, but the Wolverines are certainly no slouches. Below are their season-long stats and where they rank nationally following conference championship weekend:
|Total defense (rank)||Rush defense (rank)||Pass defense (rank)||Scoring defense (rank)||Defensive efficiency (rank)|
|Georgia||253.9 (2nd)||81.7 (3rd)||172.2 (3rd)||9.5 (1st)||93.0 (1st)|
|Michigan||316.2 (12th)||121.5 (21st)||194.7 (22nd)||16.1 (4th)||76.3 (11th)|
Similar quarterback play
Apart from their dominant defenses, Michigan and Georgia also have similar quarterback play from Cade McNamara and Stetson Bennett, respectively. Neither player has lit up opposing defenses in 2021, but have largely been efficient and careful spreading the ball to receivers. Bennett had a rough outing against then-No. 3 Alabama, throwing two interceptions. If Kirby Smart elects to keep the former walk-on as his starter, however, here’s how he matches up against McNamara:
|Passing yards||Completions/Attempts||Completion Pct.||TDs-INTs||QBR|
Despite being two of college football’s premier programs, Michigan and Georgia have only met twice in their storied histories, and not since 1965. Michigan won the first matchup in 1957 as the 10th-ranked Wolverines blanked the unranked Bulldogs 26-0. Georgia returned the favor several years later, as the No. 10 Bulldogs beat seventh-ranked Michigan 15-7. Both matches took place in Ann Arbor, Mich.
So: Who wins the rubber match?
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Orange Bowl odds
Georgia opened as a 7.5-point favorite over Michigan, according to FanDuel. The over/under is set at 43.5 points.
Where is Orange Bowl being played in 2021?
The Orange Bowl will be played in its usual host stadium of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The stadium, which first opened in 1987, has hosted the Orange Bowl since the 1996 season. There are no limitations to fan attendance this season.
New Year’s 6 Bowl schedule 2021
All of this year’s New Year’s 6 Bowl games are televised on ESPN.
|Dec. 30||Peach Bowl||No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pitt||7 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Dec. 31||Cotton Bowl Classic (CFP semifinal)||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati||3:30 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Dec. 31||Orange Bowl (CFP semifinal)||No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia||7:30 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Jan. 1||Fiesta Bowl||No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State||1 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Jan. 1||Rose Bowl Game||No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Utah||5 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Jan. 1||Sugar Bowl||TBD vs. TBD||8:45 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Jan. 10||CFP National Championship||TBD vs. TBD||8 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|