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Many people think of this Michigan team as just a solid, well-rounded football squad. And it certainly is that – its offense, defense and special teams are all top 15 units in the country.
But the offense, for having a quarterback that isn’t the leader of the unit, is surprisingly explosive. No team in the country had more gains of 40-, 50-, 60- or 70+ yards than the Wolverines.
The offense starts with the running backs; the powerful Hassan Haskins and the shifty Blake Corum. Haskins was likely the second-best back in the Big Ten this season, rushing 261 times for 1,288 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and a league-leading 20 rushing score.
Corum meanwhile was more explosive, running just 141 times but still netting 939 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. He was also used more frequently in the passing game, adding 22 catches for 143 yards and a score.
And don’t forget Cade McNamara, the quarterback who isn’t asked to do too much except protect the ball and make the timely throw. Now that may be selling him a little short – he completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,470 yards, 15 scores and just four interceptions – but he is a game manager, that’s his role and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But this Georgia defense – whoa boy. Georgia was the best defense in the nation, leading the FBS in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and finishing second in total defense (253.2 yards per game) but come off a bludgeoning from the hands of Alabama, who scored 41 in the SEC championship game.
Georgia gave up 10 touchdowns in 12 regular-season games – and it’s because of their front. Jalen Carter, Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis are all 300+ pounds and just never allow a rushing game to get going. Even Bama, who put up 41, managed just 78 rushing yards.
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Georgia’s offense is good but not great. However, because the defense is so fantastic, its offense doesn’t need to be fantastic.
Approximately half of media day for Georgia and coach Kirby Smart was spent answering questions about Stetson Bennett III and why he earned the starting job – and has kept it – over USC transfer J.T. Daniels.
Bennett had a very comparable season to McNamara – completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 2,325 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. And for what may be perceived as offensive limitations, Georgia actually has more plays that gained 20+ yards (70) than Michigan (66).
Brock Bowers is the man who makes this offense go – leading the team in catches (47), yards (791) and touchdowns (11).
Then again, Michigan has one of the best defenses the Bulldogs will have seen. Aidan Hutchinson finished second in the Heisman race and grabbed the headlines, but it goes beyond just him. David Ojabo could also be a first round pick and Josh Rosss holds things down in the middle of the defense.
However, the coaching staff wouldn’t confirm if former 5-star DB Daxton Hill made the trip to the Orange Bowl, which would be a huge blow to the Wolverines.
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The X-factor for Georgia is the running game, who also has a dual-back system with Zamir White and James Cook. White is the feature back, he ran for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns while Cook had 618 yards and and seven touchdowns.
For Michigan, it’s the pass catchers. Nobody caught more than three touchdowns on the season, but the primary threats are Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson and tight end Erick All. Someone will have to have the best game of their life if Michigan is to win.
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|Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs Information|
|Teams||Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs|
|Location||Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL|
|Time||Tuesday, Dec. 31,7:30 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||ESPN|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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