Georgia vs. Michigan: What you need to know about the Wolverines
Georgia and Michigan have only met twice in their storied histories, and the last time came in 1965 in the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Bulldogs won 15-7 in a game coached by Vince Dooley and Chalmers “Bump” Elliott.
The only other meeting came in 1957, a 26-0 Michigan victory in a game coached by Wallace Butts and Bennie G. Oosterbaan.
This time, it’s Jim Harbaugh and Kirby Smart, and the teams enter the Orange Bowl as No. 2 Michigan ended the season with a lot of momentum, while No. 3 Georgia is trying to bounce back from the SEC Championship loss to Alabama.
After winning the Big Ten championship, Harbaugh talked about what that accomplishment meant to the program.
“It’s a lot, yeah, the championship, chance to go to the Playoff. To walk past the sign we all walk by, ‘Those who stay will be champions.’ To make that valid and that true. You know, for guys to — to live on, really, in Schembechler Hall forever. I mean, this picture is going to be up there on the All American wall. Every guy on the team in the team picture is going to be up there as part of Big 10 Champion. We’ve got a banner in Glick Fieldhouse that’s going to say Big Ten Champion.
Michigan this season is most known for its first win in a decade over rival Ohio State and just its 2nd in 17 meetings. Michigan is looking to return to Indianapolis in January for a shot at its first national championship since 1997.
Hassan Haskins ran for two scores and broke a longtime school record as Michigan got past Iowa 42-3 to clinch its first Big Ten title in 17 years. Haskins’ 20 rushing TDs in a single season are one more than Ron Johnson had in his record-setting 1968 season.
The Wolverines are also led by standout defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who was named the Big Ten Championship MVP, the first defensive player to win the award since the championship game began. In Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, there were chants of “Hutch for Heisman.” The week before the Big Ten championship, Hutchinson broke the Michigan single-season record for sacks. He has 14 sacks, which is 3rd in the country.
Earning the ring they’ve worked for didn’t come easily.
The Wolverines (12-1) overcame a midseason loss to in-state rival Michigan State and, of course, ended the futility against Ohio State for a chance to end their conference title drought.
The program also had an emotional week last week following the school shooting tragedy that took the lives of 4 high school students in Oxford, Michigan, including Tate Myre, a football player and wrestler. Michigan honored the victims of the school about an hour away from its campus by wearing a patch on their right shoulder with Myre’s jersey No. 42 and 4 hearts — one for each student who died — inside the school’s traditional block ‘O’ logo.
Before the season, amid a litany of offseason changes aimed to spark new life into Michigan’s defense, Harbaugh turned to his brother John’s staff with the Baltimore Ravens to hire new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. It has proven to be a successful move as the 34-year-old former NFL assistant got his first chance to be a coordinator at any level.
Michigan has the No. 12 total defense in the country, led by Hutchinson.