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Georgia vs. Michigan prediction and pick. The Bulldogs and Wolverines meet in the Orange Bowl with a national title game spot on the line. Alex Kirshner makes his pick for this CFP semifinal, and it's simple: offense.
ANALYSIS

Georgia vs. Michigan Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Michigan Wolverines - CFP Semifinal

Orange Bowl

Spread: Georgia -7.5

Total: 45.5

Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET Friday

Where to Watch: ESPN

Georgia vs. Michigan odds

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Georgia vs. Michigan Prediction

Georgia and Michigan are slated to meet in a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year's Eve. Both teams have been elite all season, but their matchup feels a little different than it would've if you'd predicted it around midseason. Specifically, it feels like more of a potential shootout than it would have a few months ago. Georgia has had the best defense in college football, but Alabama's SEC Championship destruction of the Dawgs has taken some of the historic mystique off the Dawgs. Michigan has been more good than great on offense for most of the year, but the Wolverines' offensive line dominated Ohio State and Iowa to punch a Playoff ticket, and QB Cade McNamara has gotten better as the season has progressed. If you look at this game in the right light, you can see a lot of points.

There are risks, of course. Michigan's vaunted offensive line hasn't seen a defensive front quite like Georgia's. McNamara and his receivers haven't had to work around a secondary as good as the Dawgs', either. Georgia's QB situation is at best unsettled, as Kirby Smart will either ride into the Playoff with the severely limited Stetson Bennett IV or make a late-season change and start the more talented but less seasoned JT Daniels. There are enough low-scoring paths on the table that the total has settled in the mid-40s.

I think at least one team will manage to have a respectable offensive showing, though, and there's a chance both teams can find points.

For Michigan's part, the Wolverines have the linemen to run the ball at least a little bit on Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and the impossibly talented Georgia front. I wouldn't expect the Wolverines to run over the Dawgs all night, or to even try. But I do think they can find enough three-, four-, and five-yard runs for Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum to set up McNamara with manageable downs-and-distances. McNamara didn't do much of note for the first half of the season, but his downfield passing chops have noticeably ticked up lately, and I think he's going to make a few chunk throws (15-25 yards) in this game. Combined with some good running from Haskins and Corum, it doesn't take an imaginative stretch to see Michigan getting to somewhere in the 20s, at which point a Georgia cover of a 7.5-point spread would guarantee that the over cashes.

To that point, I think the Georgia offense will pull its weight, too, though not necessarily in a way Dawgs fans will like. There's a chance Bennett plays at the caliber he played at for most of the season, in which case the Dawgs should move the ball plenty. (The recently returned George Pickens makes a good passing game even more potent.) There's also a chance Bennett is out of his depth and coughs up an interception or two or three to the Wolverines. In that event, the short fields for Michigan would help the over in their own way. And Georgia should run the ball acceptably, even against a stout Michigan front.

Bettor beware that every thought in these paragraphs is subject to change with the whims of COVID-19. The latest wave of the pandemic has reached college football, too, and might result in either team's game day lineup looking a good deal different than expected. But at this time, there's no particular reason to think the public health situation will harm one team more than the other, or, maybe more aptly, the offenses more than the defenses. You might consider waiting until close to kickoff to place your bets, but given everything currently on the table, I think the best value on the table is to bet on points. I'll take the over.

Georgia vs. Michigan Pick

Pick: Over 45.5 @ -110

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Article Author

ROI N/A
NCAAF

Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.

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