Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis hits Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara during the second half of the Orange Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky

Georgia football instant observations as Bulldogs crush Michigan, advance to national championship game

Kirby Smart was confident his team would respond after its loss to Alabama. Michigan found out very quickly how forceful that response would be.

The Bulldogs scored on their first five possessions of the game, while holding the Wolverines had just a field goal in the opening half. Georgia turned the Big Ten champion, a team that beat Ohio State and throttled Iowa, into an Arkansas or Kentucky.

Georgia didn’t need to do much in the second half, after forcing Michigan turnovers on its first two drives and coasted to a 34-11 win over Michigan. The first touchdown for the Wolverines didn’t come until there was 4:25 left in the fourth quarter when Georgia’s second-string defenders were in the game.

The Bulldogs are now 2-0 in College Football Playoff semifinals under Smart, and will advance to the national championship game. Awaiting the Bulldogs will once again be Alabama.

Michigan fans actually outnumbered Georgia fans in Miami, a rarity given the passionate Bulldog fanbase. But by the end of the game, only those in the red and black were left to witness the beatdown that Georgia put on Michigan.

Stetson Bennett stars for Bulldogs

After a month of countless questions about his abilities, Bennett delivered the best game of his Georgia career in the biggest of moments. He completed 16 of 22 pass attempts for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns in the opening half, powering the Bulldogs to their halftime edge.

Bennett finished the game 21 of 31 for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns. Georgia was aggressive throwing the ball, with Bennett’s 22 first-half pass attempts being more than the Bulldogs had in six different games this season.

Critics of Bennett will still exist in part because of who he plays next, but the senior quarterback played the game of his life in a College Football Playoff semifinal. He put Georgia into a national championship game.

An incredible display from the former walk-on.

Derion Kendrick, Georgia defense come up big

Kendrick is one of the few players on the Georgia team who knows what a College Football Playoff game looks like. He struggled mightily in games against LSU and Ohio State when he was a member of the Clemson Tigers.

And early on, Michigan went after Kendrick. The Wolverines connected on a 42-yard pass with Kendrick in coverage to set up the only points of the first half.

But the transfer cornerback, like the Georgia defense as a whole, responded emphatically. Kendrick picked off two Cade McNamara passes, doubling his interceptions total on the season.

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