COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Michigan, Georgia to Meet in Playoff Semifinal at Orange Bowl

The winners of this season’s semifinals will meet January 10th, 2022 in Indianapolis in the national title game

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MIAMI GARDENS, FL – DECEMBER 31: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners hands the ball off to Samaje Perine #32 in the first half against the Clemson Tigers during the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Two of college football’s top teams will meet in South Florida on New Year’s Eve for a chance to advance to the national championship game.

The Michigan Wolverines and Georgia Bulldogs will meet in the Capital One Orange Bowl, held inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, on December 31st.

No. 2 seeded Michigan (12-1) advances after winning the Big Ten championship over Iowa on Saturday. It will be the second time the Wolverines advanced to the Orange Bowl, having played in December 2016 against FSU.

They had close wins against unranked Rutgers and Nebraska, and their only loss was 37-33 at Michigan State. But they got on a roll in late November, closing the regular season with a 42-27 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State and putting a 42-3 beat-down on Iowa in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday night.

The Wolverines are in the four-team playoff for the first time after winning their first Big Ten title since 2004. They're also the first team to start a season unranked to make the playoff. They didn't crack the AP Top 25 until after their second game, a 31-10 win over Washington on Sept. 11.

No. 3 seeded Georgia (12-1) advances after losing the SEC championship to Alabama, who is seeded No. 1 and will play Cincinnati in the other semifinal in the Cotton Bowl. It will be the first Orange Bowl for the Bulldogs since January 1960.

The Bulldogs were No. 5 in the preseason and No. 2 to Alabama in the first five polls of the regular season. They took over the top spot after Alabama lost at Texas A&M on Oct. 9 and were there seven straight weeks.

The Bulldogs went into Southeastern Conference championship game as a touchdown favorite against Alabama. But their offense went flat and committed two turnovers, one an interception returned for a touchdown, and they converted only 3 of 12 third downs. Alabama's Bryce Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns and the Bulldogs lost 41-24.

Defense is the identity for both Michigan and Georgia. The Wolverines feature two of the best defensive ends in the country in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, who have combined for 25 sacks, and Georgia has the premier defensive tackle in Outland Trophy finalist Jordan Davis.

The winners of this season’s semifinals will meet January 10th, 2022 in Indianapolis in the national title game.