Georgia opens as favorite over Michigan in CFP semifinal Orange Bowl after ‘eye-opening’ loss

12/4/21 - Atlanta - Georgia Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh (6) runs for a first down during the second quarter of the SEC Championship football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Curtis Compton /

ATLANTA — Georgia football has opened as a 7 1/2-point favorite over Michigan in the College Football Playoff Semifinal Orange Bowl game in Miami Gardens, Fla., at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (12-1) are coming off a 41-24 loss at the hands of No. 1-ranked Alabama (12-1) on Saturday night in the SEC Championship Game.

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“It was an eye-opening experience,” Smart said. “Sometimes you see those flaws, and you see brutal truths, and the best way to handle those is to have optimism and go to work.”

Smart said he feels the Georgia team leaders will be ready to respond and prepare properly for what ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit referred to as a “dangerous” team of No. 2-ranked Wolverines (12-1).

“Our leadership is as good as it has ever been,” Smart said. “To see those men in that locker room last night after the game gave me great confidence of what will go on over the next three or four weeks.

“There was a lot of hurt, there was a lot of pain, a lot of guys reaching out last night, fired up and ready to go to work.”

Smart indicated the time leading up to the bowl game would allow for Georgia to make necessary changes.

“There’s no greater realization and attention to detail than when it comes after a loss,” Smart said. “Our guys are like sponges right now, they are ready to absorb information, they are ready to go to work, they are all in.”

The Crimson Tide has opened as a 13 1/2-point favorite over No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in the other CFP semifinal Arlington, Texas, at 3 p.m. on Dec. 31.

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