With an overwhelming half at the Orange Bowl, No. 3 Georgia showed that a humiliating loss to Alabama didn’t break the Bulldogs.
In fact, it would have made her even stronger.
Stetson Bennett tossed three touchdown passes, Nakobe Dean led an angry defense and Georgia returned to its dominant style, beating number 2 Michigan 34-11 to reach the college football playoff championship on Friday night.
Georgia (13-1) fought a rematch with the archenemy of the Southeastern Conference Alabama (13-1) in the title game on January 10 in Indianapolis.
A little less than a month ago, the Crimson Tide rolled through the Bulldogs, shattering their invincibility after a 12-0 regular season in which they were barely challenged.
When there were questions about whether the damage would persist from that 41-24 setback, the Bulldogs were quick to respond.
Georgia became the first team in the CFP’s eight-year history to score a goal on each of their first five possession of the ball, leading 27-3 at halftime.
Michigan (12-2) made his first playoff appearance in a milestone season after ending a long drought against rivals Ohio State en route to winning the Big Ten.
“Let’s rip,” said Michigan’s coach Jim Harbaugh shortly before kick-off to ESPN.
The Bulldogs sure did and played like a team to prove a point.
Georgia scored touchdowns on the first two touches, moving it at will against Heisman Trophy runner-up Aidan Hutchinson and the Michigan Defense.
Bennett found freshman tight-end Brock Bowers on the flats for an 8-yard touchdown pass to top off an 80-yard opening drive.
Georgia took a two-touchdown lead, hitting Michigan with some of the tricks the Wolverines have done so well this season. Tailback Kenny McIntosh swept right, unleashing a perfect pass on Adonai Mitchell for an 18-yard TD that brought the 14-0 to play in less than five minutes.
The Wolverines had reached their first Big Ten championship this season since 2004 without scoring up to seven points.
The Bulldogs tackled field goals on their next two possession of the ball and Bennett met with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Burton, who was on the sideline to make it 27-3 with 1:38 at halftime.
And that was about it. The Bulldogs dominated in every way, beating the Wolverines 330-101 in the first 30 minutes.
The Georgia defense, which set a historic pace and allowed less than one touchdown per game before being shredded by Alabama, stifled a Michigan offensive aimed at harassing opponents.
The Bulldogs got none of it.
Dean, the Butkus Award-winning linebacker, diagnosed pre-snap plays and chased ball carriers from sideline to sideline.
Massive nose tackle Jordan Davis collapsed in the middle of an offensive in Michigan that won the Joe Moore Award for best in the country.
Cornerback Derion Kendrick has two interceptions and was the defensive player of the game.
The Wolverines finished rushing 88 yards after averaging 223 per game. Cade McNamara was 11 for 19 for 106 yards over.
It just wasn’t a competition and now the Bulldogs will get a chance at redemption against Alabama and try to win their first national title since 1980.
All in the way is the most successful dynasty in college football history, the rivalry that Georgia’s trainer Kirby Smart, a longtime Nick Saban assistant in Alabama, tried to recreate his program after.
Georgia opened as a 2 1/2 point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Georgia: There have been many questions as to whether Bennett should remain the Bulldogs quarterback after throwing two interceptions against Alabama. Georgia fans wondered if it was time to switch back to USC transfer JT Daniels, who was QB1, to start the season before an injury opened the door for Bennett.
The former walk-on made his first nine passes against Michigan en route to 307 yards and showed James Cook more than enough arm strength on a 53-yard bomb in the second quarter. Bennett was named an Offensive MVP.
Michigan: The 2021 season will have a lot in store for the Wolverines to look back on. The Orange Bowl showed that bridging the gap with Ohio State is one thing, but there are two teams at the top of college football right now who are in a whole different class from the rest.
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