By: Aidan Champion
If you’re a fan of Michigan football, it certainly is the most wonderful time of the year. The No. 2 Wolverines have finally found their way to the College Football Playoff, and they did so in dominating fashion.
As if Michigan’s win over rival Ohio State wasn’t enough of a statement, the Wolverines trounced Iowa in the Big Ten title game just a week later, securing the conference for the first time ever with Jim Harbaugh behind the wheel.
Now, Michigan faces its toughest test of the season in No. 3 Georgia, who up until Saturday, had stampeded through the season unbeaten. Fortunately for the Wolverines, the Bulldogs were proven to be mortal in their 41-24 SEC championship loss to No. 1 Alabama.
While the Wolverines have the higher seed, there’s no doubting they come into the matchup as the underdog. But they’re not as much of a Goliath figure that some might think. Michigan is a juggernaut itself, as it comes off two dominating wins against two of the best teams in one of the best conferences in college football.
Georgia still has the No. 1 defense in the nation, and it’s not even close. Despite allowing Alabama to put up 41 points, the Bulldogs still allow less than 10 points per game.
The biggest challenge for Michigan will be Georgia’s rushing defense, as it ranks third in the country. This isn’t a good sign for a Wolverine offense that is very reliant on its run game in running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum.
Then again, Wisconsin is first in college football in rushing defense, and the Wolverines ran for 112 yards against the Badger defense.
Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense, a position that looks very appealing as the Wolverines are tasked with stopping the No. 7 scoring offense in the country.
Even so, the Bulldogs still don’t rank even close to the top 20 in passing offense nor rushing.
It’s safe to say Michigan’s most prominent challenge will be finding a way to make plays against the Georgia defense.
Scoring isn’t going to be easy, especially when the Bulldogs have the best red zone defense in college football. One of the most significant edges Michigan had going for itself going into its matchup with Ohio State was that the Buckeyes had poor production when defending in the red zone.
Here’s the bottom line: Michigan is in the playoff and rightfully so. The Wolverines belong in the final-four showdown, having beat some of the best teams this season.
If it weren’t for a blown 16-point lead against Michigan State, the Wolverines would be undefeated with the No. 1 seed.
But the journey is far from over. Alabama and Georgia are 1-A and 1-B, but Michigan has the best potential to beat either. If the Wolverines can find a way to expose Georgia’s dominant defense, they will find themselves playing for the national title on Jan. 10.
The Orange Bowl is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Written by: Aidan Champion
Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org
Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports