Orange Bowl Odds: Michigan A Bigger Underdog As COVID Threatens

Written By Drew Ellis on December 28, 2021 - Last Updated on December 29, 2021

The 2021 Orange Bowl is just days away, but it feels like a lifetime for Michigan fans and players.

A matchup with Georgia is on the horizon, but the latest surge in COVID cases around the country has rocked college football.

How are oddsmakers looking at this College Football Playoff semifinal?

Michigan still a big underdog on game week

As the game has approached, Michigan continues to find itself as a sizable underdog to Georgia.

Michigan is ranging from a 7.5-point to 8-point underdog against the Bulldogs.

On the moneyline, the Wolverines are ranging from +225 to +240. Georgia is listed at -290 to -305.

The over/under total is listed at around 45 points at Michigan sportsbooks.

Michigan is 11-2 against the spread on the season. The Wolverines have had 7 of their 13 games go over the total.

Georgia is 8-5 against the spread this season, while the under has been the play in 7 of their 13 games.

These two programs have met just two times in their history. Their last meeting was back in 1965. Each team has won once.

College Football Playoff Odds: Michigan vs. Georgia

BetMGM: Heavy bets on Michigan, spread and total tick up

One of Michigan’s most popular books is reporting heavy betting on the Wolverines, particularly on the moneyline.

BetMGM Sportsbook opened the line at 7.5 points but reported Tuesday morning that it was up to 8. Still, 68% of spread bets were coming in for Michigan.

It’s worth noting that BetMGM often is highly leveraged by Great Lakes State teams, as Michigan is one of the book’s most active markets.

Further, 89% of moneyline handle is on Michigan. That number opened at +230 and was +240 on Tuesday.

The over/under betting splits at BetMGM were pretty even: 56% of handle was on the under. The total moved from a 43.5-point opening to 45.5 on Tuesday.

How to watch: Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs

  • What: No. 2 Michigan (12-1, Big Ten Champs) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1, At-large bid)
  • When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Online livestream: ESPN+
  • Satellite Radio: Georgia broadcast (Sirius XM Channel 84); Michigan broadcast (Sirius XM Channel 82)
  • Radio: Learfield Michigan Sports Network
  • Winner: Plays the winner of Alabama/Cincinnati at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 10, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.

COVID threatening bowl season

The story across college football in the past week has been an outbreak of COVID.

Already, four bowl games have been cancelled due to the virus.

In order to try and ensure the safety of the semifinal teams, all media sessions are now being done virtually. Any events with planned fan interactions are now no longer taking place.

“We’ve got to constantly remind ourselves we’re here for a reason,” Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis told the Associated Press. “This is purely a business trip. We’re afforded the luxury of being in Miami in such a great hotel and have all the hospitality around us, but it doesn’t matter if we’re playing this game in Ann Arbor, Athens or Miami, we’re here for a reason, and the College Football Playoffs is that reason.”

Georgia defense still tops in the country

The Georgia defense has established itself as the best of the nation.

The Bulldogs allow just 9.5 points per game this season, with Clemson a distant second at 15.0.

Those numbers also include a poor showing against Alabama in a 41-24 loss in the SEC Championship.

Still, UGA ranks second nationally in total defense (254.4 ypg), third in pass defense (172.2 ypg) and fourth in rushing defense (82.2 ypg).

Where the Tide were able to attack Georgia was through the air. Bama had 421 passing yards against the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship.

Will Michigan has to turn away from its 10th-ranked rushing offense (223.8 ypg)? Does this mean Cade McNamara will be the focal point of the offense?

McNamara has just one game this season with over 260 passing yards. That was actually the 37-33 loss to Michigan State, where he threw for 383 yards.

Michigan defense has to stand tall

Aside from the running game, Michigan’s strength this year has been its defense.

The Wolverines aren’t far from Georgia in a lot of departments. U-M ranks fourth in points allowed (16.1 ppg) and 12th in total defense (315.8 ypg).

Georgia’s offense has been solid this season in its own right, averaging 39.4 points per game, but not many focus on the Bulldogs on that side of the ball.

It’s really the Georgia defense that has put the offense in a lot of advantageous positions. When the defense struggled against Alabama, UGA didn’t have the ability to answer with its offense.

U-M’s defensive front is as strong as anyone’s. Aidan Hutchinson (14 sacks) and David Ojabo (11 sacks) provide constant pressure. They will have to wreak havoc again to keep the Bulldogs on their heels.

Photo by AP / Darron Cummings
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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