3 & Out Report - UGA vs Michigan Preview
During game week the staff at Dawg News Daily previews the matchup between the Bulldogs and their opponent. We focus in on 3 key position matchups or players that we believe will be the difference makers in Saturday's game.
Georgia was far and away the top team in the country this season until Alabama stunned the Bulldogs in the conference championship. UGA, seeking its first national championship since 1980, looks to prove the lopsided 41-24 loss was a fluke and potentially get a rematch with the Crimson Tide in the national championship game (Alabama faces No. 4 Cincinnati in the other semifinal match at the Cotton Bowl).
Michigan, meanwhile, finally got past Ohio State and won its first Big Ten championship with Harbaugh as coach. The Wolverines went 3-1 against ranked opponents this season, including scoring 42 points in back-to-back matchups against Ohio State and Iowa heading into the playoffs. Michigan hopes this is the year it wins its 12th national championship and first since 1997.
DAWG NEWS DAILY'S 3 & OUT REPORT:
1) Stetson Bennett Vs. Cade McNamara
Both coaches ask the quarterbacks to manage the game and not try to win it by their arm. McNamara and Bennett both have similar stats (Bennett: 2325 yards passing, 24 TDs/7 Int , McNamara: 2470 yards passing, 15 TDs/4 Int). Both teams rely on the run game to set up their offensive success. With that said, Expect both defenses to have stacked boxes to stop the run and force the Quarterbacks to throw.
Throwing the ball isn't the formula for victory for the Bulldogs. In the Kirby Smart Era, The Bulldogs are .500 when the Quarterback has to throw over 30 times. While Bennett had a career high 340 yards passing in the SEC Championship game, it came with 48 pass attempts and at the end of the game a loss.
The same can be said for McNamara, In the Wolverines only loss this season to Michigan State, McNamara had a career high of 383 yards passing with a season high 44 pass attempts.
If it turns in to a need-to-pass game, Do the Bulldogs take a look at backup JT Daniels who has recently cleared Covid Protocols?
2) UGA Defensive Line vs. Michigan Offensive Line
Both Georgia and Michigan have been defense-first teams en route to their spots in the playoff this year. The Bulldogs are the top-ranked scoring defense in the country, holding opponents to an average of 9.5 points per game with three shutout victories although they did give up 41 points in their SEC Championship Game loss to now-No. 1 Alabama.
Michigan's offensive line came home with the Joe Moore Award as the best Offensive Line in the country. The O-line is Run blocking heavy for their 2 back tandem in senior Hassan Haskins and sophomore Blake Corum. Haskins, has run for 1,288 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, while Corum has 939 yards and 11 touchdowns of his own.
Although, they have been creative in their running game with a lot of misdirection so the Bulldogs will need to have Eye-discipline. Alabama did a good job of motioning receivers out to the sidelines to get Nakobe Dean out of the middle of the field. Expect Michigan to take a page out of their playbook. I'd imagine counters with a safety or outsied backer to follow in man-coverage. But if Georgia's defense can get back to regular season form, expect it to be along day for the Michigan run game.
3) Aidan Hutchinson vs. Jamaree Salyer
The time off from the SEC Championship actually was good for a few bulldogs who were licking their wounds. One of the most important dawgs was Left Tackle Jamaree Salyer. Salyer missed four game during the regular season due to a foot injury and tweaked it again in the last game of the season against Georgia Tech. Salyer did play against Alabama but was limited in practice leading up to the game. Salyer is the Dawgs most versatile lineman and probably has the best technique to handle the size and speed rush of Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson (6'6, 265 pounds) was a Heisman trophy runner up to Alabama Quaterback Bryce Young. Hutchinson ranks third nationally in sacks per game (1.08 avg), has 58 tackles (15.5 for loss), two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Hutchinson’s 14 sacks is the most in a season in Michigan history.
The Bulldogs allowed just 11 sacks all season as a part of a high-percentage attack led by Stetson Bennett. Georgia averaged 194.9 passing yards per game and 5.3 yards per attempt, and it will not abandon the run with Zamir White (726 yards, 10 TDs) and James Cook (629 yards, 7 TDs). Look for Georgia to have players like John Fitzpatrick, Brock Bowers, and Zamir White to motion into help blocking schemes or chip Hutchinson throughout the game. Hutchinson can't be the only focal point for Georgia as Michigan has several other "Dudes" on their defense that can cause havoc.
DND's Score Prediction:
For the first time in 56 years, Michigan and Georgia will go head-to-head. This time, the Wolverines and Bulldogs are playing for a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. This game pits 2 teams that are mirror images of each other. Both want to establish the run while limiting pass attempts to less than 25. Brock Bowers is a matchup nightmare as he proved against Alabama in the SEC championship game. Expect Stetson Bennett to target Bowers all night until Michigan can find a solution. Georgia will need more than Bowers to win this game... Maybe the fans will see a little more of George Pickens since he just came off Covid Protocols. We expect the Dawgs to get an early lead and then fight off a Michigan fourth quarter comeback that falls just short.
Georgia 27-17 (Line: UGA -7.5)
FORMER DAWGS SCORE PREDICTIONS:-
Former QB David Greene: 31-21 DAWGS-
Former LB Jordan Jenkins: 35-28 DAWGS-
Former OL Chris Burnette: 31-28 DAWGS