It wasn’t that long ago that people were waiting for the shoe to drop on the Michigan football season.
Expectations were that Jim Harbaugh and company would find a way to come up short of title expectations once again.
Now, Wolverine fans are celebrating their first Big Ten Conference championship since 2004 and the program’s first bid into the College Football Playoff.
Playing as well as anyone in the nation right now, Michigan will try to keep it going Dec. 31 against Georgia in the Orange Bowl.
Are oddsmakers finally buying into the Wolverines?
College Football Playoff Odds: Michigan vs. Georgia
No love from Michigan sportsbooks in semifinal
Although Michigan has been looking strong in recent weeks, odds at Michigan sportsbooks aren’t favoring the Wolverines against Georgia.
After the matchup was announced on Sunday, BetMGM Sportsbook initially had Georgia as a 7-point favorite over Michigan in the semifinal. But that line moved to 7.5 points by late Monday morning at most Michigan sports betting sites, with the exception of PointsBet Sportsbook, which had Michigan +8.
The moneyline had Georgia at -300, while Michigan opened at +220 and has since moved to +250.
The over/under total for this defensive showdown is listed at just 43.5 points.
Michigan is now 11-2 against the spread on the season following a 42-3 win against Iowa on Saturday. The Wolverines have had seven of their 13 games go over the total.
Georgia is 8-5 against the spread this season, with the under as the play in seven 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.
U-M moves up national title markets
It was just a matter of a few days ago that Michigan sat at +850 to win the National Championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
At that same time, Georgia was the overwhelming favorite at -220.
Now, Michigan finds itself at +750, while top-seeded Alabama has returned to being the favorite at +120. The Tide sat at +650 heading into the SEC championship game.
Georgia isn’t far behind Bama at +135, while fourth-seeded Cincinnati is at +1500.
BetMGM is listing Bama as a 13.5-point favorite in its semifinal with Cincinnati on Dec. 31.
Back in August, Michigan was listed at +2000 to reach the College Football Playoff and +8000 to win the national championship in some sportsbooks.
Those who put the money down on U-M to win the Big Ten crown have to be ecstatic. The Wolverines were +1700 to win the conference title in August.
How to watch: Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs
- What: College Football Playoff semifinal, No. 2 Michigan (12-1, Big Ten Champion) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1, At-large bid)
- When: Friday, December 31, 2021, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
- TV: ESPN (Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe)
- Online livestream: ESPN+
- Radio: Learfield Michigan Sports Network
Michigan rolls over Iowa
Although there were some struggles offensively in the second quarter, Michigan still put the hammer down on Iowa in the Big Ten championship game Saturday.
The Wolverines came out swinging, with Blake Corum scoring on a 67-yard touchdown run on the second Michigan possession. That was followed up a minute later by a 75-yard TD pass from freshman back Donovan Edwards to receiver Roman Wilson.
After Iowa shut down Michigan offensively in the second, the Wolverines got back to it in the second half, putting together four scoring drives.
With the game in hand, up 35-3 in the closing minutes, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines decided to try and add one more score in the final 90 seconds to put Michigan at 42 points. That was a tribute to Tate Myre, the Oxford football player that was tragically killed in Tuesday’s school shooting.
Michigan finished with 211 rushing yards and 250 passing yards in the win while holding Iowa to just 279 total yards.
Aidan Hutchinson was named MVP of the game with four tackles, one sack and two hurries. Hutchinson was relentless with his pressure off the edge and creating issues for Iowa.
Georgia defense should be a challenge for Michigan
Georgia found itself exposed Saturday in a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship.
The Bulldogs were a defensive juggernaut all season, but gave up 536 yards to the Tide, including 421 passing yards.
Still, UGA comes into the Orange Bowl with Michigan as arguably the best defense in the nation. The Bulldogs rank first in scoring defense (9.5 ppg), second in total defense (254.4 ypg), third in passing defense (172.2 ypg) and fourth in rush defense (82.2 ypg).
Michigan isn’t quite as strong, but the Wolverines rank fourth in scoring defense (16.1 ppg) and in the top 25 in the other three categories.
Offensively, Georgia has a lot of speed, relying on Zamir White and James Cook for a combined 1,337 yards on the ground.
Stetson Bennett has thrown or 2,325 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. He has been sacked just nine times.
Getting pressure on Bennett will be a big key for U-M. Michigan has 34 sacks on the season, led by Hutchinson’s 14.