Georgia and Michigan reached their College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl going in different directions. The question is whether that positive or negative momentum plays a significant role as the teams fight to reach the championship game in Indianapolis on Jan. 10.
The Bulldogs strutted through almost the entire regular season, bullying every opponent along the way, from Clemson through Georgia Tech, behind a defense quickly placed alongside the best in recent Football Bowl Subdivision history. Then came the SEC championship game, and Alabama just as quickly put a dent in the Bulldogs’ sense of invincibility with a convincing victory.
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) throws against Alabama in the second half during the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Wolverines are feeling quite differently after breaking an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State on their way to their first Big Ten title since 2004. They’ve won five in a row, taking the pressure off coach Jim Harbaugh and giving belief to the team that they can finally live up to the program’s lofty expectations.
This will be only the third meeting between the schools from the SEC and Big Ten, with the most recent coming in 1965. One thread linking the two historically successful programs is an extended dry spell: Michigan hasn’t won a national championship since sharing the crown with Nebraska in 1997, while Georgia hasn’t stood atop college football since 1980.
One good thing that Georgia has going for it is that Michigan’s offense isn’t in the same class as Alabama’s. So the nation’s top-ranked defense can load up on the run and force Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara to beat them through the air. If the Wolverines’ rushing attack, which ranked 10th in the nation this season, can’t get…