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National outlets give their early thoughts, predictions for Michigan vs. Georgia

The experts are rather split.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time in program history, the Michigan Wolverines are headed to the College Football Playoff. All of the fans are amped for this game, as it has been quite a long time coming. Only problem is we have to wait almost another three weeks for this thing to actually happen.

Still, national outlets have wasted no time giving their thoughts on the game. Let’s get into what the experts are saying about Michigan vs. Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl:

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN ($)

“Jim Harbaugh’s mission to build Michigan into a team that would truly reflect his personality took longer than expected, but it has happened. The Wolverines will make their CFP debut against a team that largely resembles them. Like Michigan with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, Georgia boasts elite defensive linemen such as Jordan Davis. Both teams are built around multiple rushing options, talented tight end play, and unheralded but effective quarterbacks in Cade McNamara and Stetson Bennett IV. Will Georgia consider a QB change after Bennett’s struggles in the SEC title game? Coach Kirby Smart must guard against an Alabama hangover, or Georgia’s four-decades-long national title drought will add another painful year. Michigan played its best football down the stretch and will outlast Georgia in a defensive struggle behind two Hutchinson-forced turnovers.

Prediction: Michigan 24, Georgia 21”

Jeff Seidel, Yahoo Sports

“The committee got it right, giving Alabama the top seed and setting up Michigan to play Georgia. Alabama beat Georgia — and earned that No.1 seed — when Bryce Young threw for 421 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another. Michigan doesn’t have that kind of quarterback. Doesn’t have that kind of offense. And doesn’t have the firepower to upset a team with the second-ranked run-defense in the country. Great season, though, for the Wolverines. The pick: Georgia 27, Michigan 23.”

Bryan Fischer, Athlon Sports

“It feels like this will harken back to a time where grainy images came through one of just three channels on your oversized TV. Feel free to take note how many times adjectives like “smash mouth” are used to describe one or two of these teams or how many references are made to the extended Harbaugh family in either Athens or Ann Arbor. Something says Aidan Hutchinson will have a monster day as each defense looks stellar before the Bulldogs’ talent advantage eventually takes hold. The Pick: Michigan +7.5”

Joe Tansey, Blecher Report

“Georgia was broken open for 41 points by Alabama, but the same result is not expected in the Orange Bowl because of the talent gap in the passing game between the two teams.

Cade McNamara threw for more than 250 yards in just three games and has a single 300-yard performance from the loss against the Michigan State Spartans. Georgia is most likely going to force him to hit the 250-yard threshold to beat it.

The 21-year-old’s other issue is his turnovers against ranked opposition. He was picked off once by Michigan State, Ohio State and the Iowa Hawkeyes after throwing just a single interception in his first seven games.

Michigan will have a clear game plan on the ground, but if it can’t break through the Bulldogs’ front seven, it will become the fourth Big Ten team to suffer a national semifinal loss.

Prediction: Georgia 20, Michigan 10.”

Michael Cohen, Yahoo Sports

“After so many weeks and so many months of gritty performances and against-the-odds victories, it’s clear there’s something different about this Michigan team. Coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff have a group of players whose will to win is off the charts. That means something in a sport as physically demanding as football. U-M finds a way to do it again. The pick: Michigan 24, Georgia 23.”

Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer

“The Bulldogs and Wolverines are very much alike in terms of style, although Georgia takes more downfield shots in the passing game. Both teams rely on stingy defenses and the running game to control the clock. What is remarkable is that Michigan started playing football in 1879 and Georgia started 13 years later — but they’ve only met one time on the field.

Key player for Michigan: RB Hassan Haskins. The Wolverines led the Big Ten in rushing, and Haskins, a senior from St. Louis, is a big reason why. He had 100 yards or more in six of his team’s first 12 games this season... The Bulldogs went into the SEC championship ranked third in the FBS in run defense, allowing only 78.9 yards per game. They surrendered 115 to the Crimson Tide but just 4.4 yards per carry. The Wolverines don’t ask quarterback Cade McNamara to do too much in the passing game, so Haskins is going to have to churn out yards on first and second downs to keep the chains moving. With two more rushing touchdowns against Iowa in the Big Ten title game, giving him 20 for the year, Haskins broke a 55-year-old single-season record.”

Shawn Windsor, Yahoo Sports

“The Bulldogs come in motivated and embarrassed and stocked with the kind of five-star cupboard familiar in Tuscaloosa and Columbus. And most logic tells us the matchup favors Georgia. But then history and such told us similar things all year about these Wolverines. So why start picking against them now? Jim Harbaugh has built something beyond its talent inside Schembechler Hall, and these Wolverines have plenty of talent. The ride continues. The pick: Michigan 26, Georgia 23.”